Laced with tantalizing descriptions and allegedly inspired by “a sunrise in Tulum, the light of Lima, a walk through the city of Mexico (...) or the colors of Cartagena," Mexican officials insist Latin America did more than just "inspire" Herrera’s designs.
In a letter to designer Herrera and creative director, Wes Gordon, Secretary of Mexican Culture Alejandra Fausta, demanded "an explanation for the use of designs and embroideries of native peoples."
The clothing line violates “the cultural rights of the indigenous peoples” and steals the cultural elements which are “fully documented.” A white dress adorned with colorful embroidered animals and flowers is “from the community of Tenango de Doria (Hidalgo), in these embroideries is the history of the community and each element has a personal, family and community meaning.”
Other dresses take from the Oaxa flower designs or from Coahuila’s cozy wraps worn by Indigenous in Saltillo.
"It is a principle of ethical consideration that forces us to call attention and put on the table of sustainable development of the U.N. an urgent issue: promote inclusion and make visible to the invisible," Fausto said.
This is not the first time Mexican culture has been commandeered for fashion runways. Designers for Zara, Isabel Marant, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Mango, Santa Marguerite, and Etoile have also been denounced for cultural appropriation.
Per pending legislation, designers may soon be required to obtain written permission and form an agreement with Mexico in order to market any cultural styles from Indigenous or Afro-Mexican cultures to ensure mutual respect and just compensation are distributed.