MSc Ethics in Fashion

Cultural Appropriation of Indigenous Design in the Fashion Industry and its Impact on Native Artisan - a Case Study of Mexico

The aim of the project is to analyze the impact of cultural appropriation in the fashion industry on Indigenous artisans in Mexico. In recent years many designers have been accused of appropriating Mexican Indigenous designs. Various Indigenous communities tried to take action against the plagiarism, often without success as intellectual property rights are not applicable to traditional knowledge. The designs are not just of cultural significance, selling handmade crafts is often the only source of income for women from Indigenous communities. Traditionally trained by their female family members in weaving and embroidery, they often face double discrimination for being female and Indigenous. While conducting research in Mexico I had the chance to speak to many artisans who told me how this is directly affecting their income and therefore putting the survival of cultural heritage at risk and how collaborations, if done right, can help to preserve the traditional craftsmanship.