Wrapped in colorful haute couture, artisans and indigenous designers took a Mexico City fashion event by storm, all while trying to carve out a sustainable future in an industry threatened by plagiarism, instability and lack of funds.
At original, a government-led fashion week dedicated to traditional textiles, artists showcased their designs and confronted industry challenges under the slogan: “No bargaining, no plagiarism, no cultural appropriation.”
World-renowned brands such as Ralph Lauren and Chinese fast-fashion company Shein have in recent months faced accusations of plagiarizing indigenous Mexican designs, threatening the country’s ancient textile tradition.
Original board member Hilan Cruz said, “We need people to understand this is not a mass process. What we do takes time and that time should be valued both economically and in terms of product value.”
Cruz added that Original seeks to prevent plagiarism by raising awareness of the quality and detail of artisan fashion. But financial troubles and problems competing with the large-scale fashion industry have caused artisan’s children, who would have historically been apprenticed into the trade to seek out more stable work.
Mexican artisan Rosa Gonzalez works with her son said, “He is the one who comes up with the ideas, I shape them and put them together. With our designs anyone can wear an haute couture dress for gala parties, graduations. We have even made them for brides, but lack of funds has been stifling innovation and preventing designers from investing in better production.