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21 Times the Fashion Industry Appropriated Latino Culture

In simple terms, cultural appropriation is when someone improperly and/or thoughtlessly seizes another person’s viewpoints, manners, styles, or practices or anything that associated with that person’s culture.  Typically, people appropriate culture from minorities.

Rock and roll’s early history is a good example of cultural appropriation.   African Americans actually developed the music, but record companies and radio stations only paid attention to Caucasian artist’s recordings.  Consequently, the public believed they originated and owned the music.

For years, the fashion industry has appropriated various cultures.  For example, Marc Jacobs styled his Caucasian models in dreadlocks and Victoria Secret’s donned its models in Native American headdresses.  It does the same to the Latino culture. Unfortunately, much like the rock and roll example, most of the public doesn’t realize when it’s happening.

Here are twenty-one times various individuals or entities from the fashion industry appropriated from the Latino culture.

Gwen Stefani

Ms. Stefani is a clothes designer and fashion icon.  Oftentimes, she wears the “chola” look, which the Urban Dictionary defines as consisting of thin, “angry looking” eyebrows; dark lip liner; flannel shirts; tattoos; facial piercings; lots of gold jewelry; Nikes or Converse sneakers; baggy pants, and, hair gelled down, straight back or in a high pony tail.  Ms. Stefani attended high school in Anaheim, California with many Latinos and says that he classmates’ makeup and clothing choices “mesmerized” her.

The Beautiful Ones:We♥It@The Beautiful Ones

Kendall and Kylie Jenner

Kendall and Kylie Jenner are also clothes designers and fashion icons.  In 2017, they posed in chola outfits and makeup.  They initially told critics to “get over it, ” but later apologized.  (Note: this wasn’t the first time people accused the Jenner’s of cultural appropriation)

KendallandKylie. Digital August 28, 2017


In Givenchy’s  fall 2015 show, creative director Riccardo Tisci gelled the fine hairs on the models hairlines (a style both Latino and African American woman wear and call “baby hairs.”), put jewels     on their faces, and dressed them in Victorian clothes.  He then called them his “Chola Victorian” girls.  Furthermore, he     did not acknowledge the Latino community and did not use models of color.  

Givenchy.Digital Image.Marie Claire.March 10, 2015

Lucy Hale

In January 2017, the Pretty Liars actress posted on social media a head shot in which she wears “baby hairs.” She even commented that the style came to good use at a photo shoot. Followers noted that her hair didn’t properly reflect the style and she then deleted the post. Fashion Magazine also pointed out that when African American and Latino women sport the style, it’s labeled “hood” and “ghetto,” but when Caucasian women wear it, it’s trendy.

Twitter/Lucy Digital Image.Hale.Fashion Magazine.January 26, 2017


the popular singer appeared on the cover of the September 2018 issue of British Vogue sporting extremely thin eyebrows.  Such insulted Krysty Chavez, social media editor at Marie Claire, who wondered why Rihanna was     wearing what’s normally known as chola brows.  She actually wrote “WTF” and recalled how mothers of Mexican and Mexican-American girls feared they would wear such eyebrows.

Rihanna Eyebrows.Digital Image.Hello!.August 1, 2018

Rihanna and Karreuche Tran

The singer appears on the list again, along with her actress/model friend.  On Halloween 2017, the ladies wore opened flannel shirts, bright red lipstick, and baggy pants.  They then posted photos of themselves on social media.  Rihanna even painted a bullet hole on her chest.  The  costumes only perpetuated negative, gang-like stereotypes.

Karr.Digital Image.Hispanic Culture Blog Spot.December 6, 2017

Nina Dobrev

Twitter followers chastised the Vampire Diaries star when she dressed up in “Day of the Dead” makeup and attire. The Mexican holiday celebrates loved ones who have passed. Critics didn’t appreciate how Ms. Dobrev overlooked the holiday’s sacredness.

Nina Dobrev Halloween Costuem: PopBuzz@TV & Film

Lana Del Rey

In the short film Tropico, Ms. Del Rey portrays a Latino-American gangster. Objectors noted how the entertainment industry routinely casts Caucasian actors in Latino roles and believes it makes them look Latino by donning them in stereotypical clothes.

Lana Del Rey Tropico Tattoos:Fandom@Lana Del Rey Wiki


The company sells numerous ethnic inspired merchandises. The tagline for its Aztec purse reads: “They invented chewing gum and chocolate, but surely the Aztecs’ greatest achievement was inspiring these fresh prints.” The Aztec people were remarkable engineers and designers. In addition to creating a stunning city that had canals, causeways, and aqueducts, they made gorgeous jewelry, developed a hieroglyphic script, put together an intricate calendar, and built temples and pyramids. To say that they only invented snacks and that their utmost success inspired a handbag, demeans and insults them.

ASOS.Digital Image. Jezebel.October 5, 2012


The designers for this fashion brand claimed that the “real” L.A. girl spurred their 2014 spring/summer line, which consisted of fringed leather skirts, bra tops, large belts, backward caps, and animal prints. The Guardian remarked that it expected the models to come onto the runway to Ricky Martin’s La Vida Loca.

Flared Ruffle Detailed Dress: Pinterest@EastLA

Mercado Global

This non-profit, donor funded company forms partnerships with Guatemalan artisan women and helps them market their woven textiles to well-known American retailers and also sells its own work.  Such allows the women to preserve their craft, support their families, and earn money, which then helps them stay out of poverty.

Mercado Global.Digital Image.Mercado

Carolina K

This company markets fashions created by artists working under fair trade agreements.  Argentinian designer, Carolina Kleinman (Carolina K), infuses Latino culture into her designs.  One of her pieces, the Cholita Skirt, has bright embroidered flowers and is shaped like a dance skirt.  Indigenous people inspire Ms. Kleinman, who strives to preserve their artistry.

Isabel Marant Etoile

The French designer marketed a blouse with embroidered features that the Muxe community in Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec claims it copied from their submissions.  The designer acknowledged that the Tlahuitoltepec community provided the designs and a French court ruled that it didn’t own the rights.  It then pulled the blouse from the market.


The footwear company designed and marketed a shoe called the “Guate Weave Authentic,” which it manufactured with South American style fabric.  The style also reflected the kind skateboarders wore (the Latino Community helped shape the skateboarding industry and its fashions).  Even those who sold the shoes felt the company was culturally appropriating Latino style.


Urban Outfitters

The prominent retailer once offered a Mochila Bag (Mochila means bag) that sold well. Women of the Colombian Wayuu tribe use dyed cotton to hand weave Mochila Bags. Yet, the company gives the women little credit and hardly any profit.

Women’s Blue Ecote Mochila Woven Bucket Bag:Lyst@Urban Outfitters

The Mochila Project

The project recognizes that the Mochila bags are vital to the Wayuu people’s lifestyle and economy.  Mothers also pass down the weaving skills to their daughters, so it additionally represents tradition.  

Nabusimake02.Digital Image.The Mochila

Jennifer Lawrence/Christian Dior

Escaramuza charra, Mexico’s rodeo-like sport, inspired Dior’s most recent designs. Critics, however, wondered why it used Ms. Lawrence, instead of a Latino woman, to model the collection.


Two sisters in Utah established this company after a trip to Mexico.  They loved the textiles and the people.  They were eager to establish a working relationship that benefitted all of them.  They women note on their website that they admire the Latino culture and people and want to raise funds to help support them.  Users of social media nonetheless criticized their use of Caucasian models and accused them of cultural appropriation, which the sisters feel is unfair and wrong.


TOMS: in 2015, this shoe company offered a line of sandals inspired by ancient indigenous Mexican tribes. Centuries ago, such tribes designed and handmade sandals known as huaraches. While the company previously marketed its alpargatas (a classic Argentinian jute shoe) with a “buy one, give one” offer that that provided an impoverished child with a pair of shoes each time a consumer purchased one for themselves.  Mexicans, nonetheless objected to the update of the traditional design and viewed it as cultural appropriation. TOMS ad didn’t help matters. It read: “Huraches are no longer Mexican.”

TOMS.Digital Image.Yucatan Times.June 17, 2015

Hoop Earrings

many Latino girls maintain that hoop earrings, especially oversized ones, represent defiance, grit, and character and do not like when Caucasian girls wear them. In 2017, three Pitzer College students painted a mural on which they wrote “White Girl, Take Off Your Hoops, Stop Calling Yourself Mami and Start Respecting Our Existence”. The girls wanted to bring attention to a double standard. Historically, when Latino women and other women of color wear hoop earrings and other Latino-associated fashions, others see them as ghetto and don’t take them seriously. Yet, when Caucasian women don the fashions, others call them fashion forward and consider them innovative.


The Lesson

If you study these examples, you’ll note a steady pattern. Most of the time (emphasis on “most of the time”), people unknowingly appropriate Latino Culture.  They have no desire to hurt anyone and, most of the time (once again, emphasis on “most of the time”), wish to support it.

Reconsider the rock and roll example.  Many critics accused Elvis Presley, the “King” of rock and roll, of culturally appropriating African American music.  Many African Americans, though, insisted that he genuinely supported them and claimed his popular recordings provided opportunities they would not have had otherwise.

Today, however, technology and social media provide tremendous access to knowledge.  Anyone, should they wish, can learn all they want about an individual’s culture and customs, talk directly to those within the culture, and learn about cultural appropriation error (this is Cultural Appreciation).  Offenders can’t legitimately claim complete oblivion. So, good intentions, oversights, and good wishes only go so far.  Repeated offenses, overtly ignorant statements, and repeated offenses simply can’t be excused.

In all the examples, Latinos weren’t really against others wearing their fashions.  They simply didn’t like others overlooking their heritage, disregarding their traditions, and refusing to acknowledge their ancestry and contributions. They also objected to the double standard, which repeatedly proved, that when the dominate class, Caucasians, mostly, wore their fashions, critics called them pioneering and fresh, yet when they wore the same items, the same people viewed them negatively.

There may be occasions where you disagree with a Latino individual’s claim of cultural appropriation. You may want to say that they’re overreacting or behaving too sensitively. But, when you take time to appreciate from where their pain comes, their history, and investigate these examples, you’ll understand.  Perhaps you’ll even inspire change.

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This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi


This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato


Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.

Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.

“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”

The world got to know Luis Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.

There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”

Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Luis Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.

“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.

He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.

Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.

What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?

Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.

Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?

How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.

What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?

“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.

I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.

Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.

What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?

It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.

What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?

She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.

You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?

She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.

What can we expect from you in 2021?

A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.

Read: We Finally Have A Spanish-Language Song As The Most Streamed Song Of All Time

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