Isabel Marant, a popular French fashion designer, is under fire for allegedly trying to copyright a design used by an indigenous community from Oaxaca, Mexico.
It all began with this Marant blouse.
Her typical design aesthetic is bohemian, relaxed chic with a flare of pattern. Looks cool, right? Wait…
Earlier this year, several people noticed the blouse closely resembled this indigenous Oaxacan design.
The design you see above is a blouse worn by the Mixe community in Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec, Oaxaca. They’ve been there for hundreds of years.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison. The Oaxacan blouse costs 300 pesos (about $18). The Marant blouse sells for nearly $300.
Soon, people began calling out Marant…
— Ali Toxtli (@atoxtli) November 23, 2015
And the women of the Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec region demanded reparations from Marant for plagiarizing their design.
— Estado20 (@Estado20) June 4, 2015
Because before the style was in Paris, these women were proudly wearing them every day.
S*** really hit the fan when it was reported that Marant was seeking a copyright in France for the indigenous Oaxacan clothing design.
According to Vogue, Marant was battling with another clothing company, Antik Batik, which claimed to own the patent to the blouses.
If a patent was upheld, that means the Oaxacan community would have to pay the patent owner copyright fees to sell their blouses. Oaxaca’s secretary for indigenous issues responded by filing a lawsuit to claim the intellectual rights of the design from Isabel Marant and Antik Balik.
Of course, people were PISSED.
@isabelmarant you cannot copyright what our Indigenous people of Oaxaca have been making for centuries, we will BOYCOTT and spread the word
— Xochitl (@laxochdehp) November 19, 2015
A change.org petition was started to protect the status of the design.
— Jan Nimmo (@NimmoJan) November 22, 2015
After all the uproar, a rep for Marant sent Vogue magazine a statement in which she formally denies owning a patent for the design:
According to the statement, Marant’s company appears to be defending itself from Antik Batik’s claim that it owns a patent on the design: “Isabel Marant formally denies owning any patent to the Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec embroided blouses. Isabel Marant also formally denies having sent – or asked any French authority to send or issue – any document to the authority of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec, Oaxaca, to prevent the inhabitants of the municipality from selling their indigenous designs. On the contrary, Isabel Marant is fighting before the district court of Paris to set the record straight.”