The Mexican government is not happy with fashion designer Carolina Herrera. Now that the government has a new administration and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at the helm, they are not taking things lightly. They will call folks out on things and that’s what Mexico’s culture secretary Alejandra Frausto did when she sent a letter to Herrera and accused the company of cultural appropriation.
Frausto alleges that Herrera’s Resort 2020 collection embodies Mexican culture, which the Venezuelan, New York-based, designer does not have the right to do. The letter directed at Herrera’s creative director, Wes Gordon states, “This is a matter of ethical consideration that obliges us to speak out and bring an urgent issue to the UN’s sustainable development agenda: promoting inclusion and making those who are invisible visible.”
Frausto’s letter, according to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, goes on to explain thoroughly how each pattern, textile, embroidered item represents a specific area of Mexico that is part of the fabric of the country.
“In these embroideries is the history of the community itself, and each element has a personal, family and community meaning,” he said. By looking at the collection, there’s no doubt that the designer takes Mexican heritage and flaunts it. They admitted it too.
In a statement provided by The Guardian, the creative director states the line is a “tribute to the richness of Mexican culture. Gordan added, “There’s an undeniable Mexican presence in this collection. It’s something that jumps out at you, and I always intended it to be something latent as a way of showing my love for this country and for all the incredible work I’ve seen there. My admiration for the artisanal work has only grown as I have traveled to Mexico over the years. With this new collection, I have tried to highlight the importance of this magnificent cultural heritage.”
Now that explanation is all good and well. However, it still does not take away from the fact that the company will make millions off the ideas and culture of the Mexican people. It’s completely unfair, and we cannot understand how in this day and age, this type of monetization is still happening.
Some folks might pose the question how can this be cultural appropriation of Herrera is Latina? She’s Venezuelan though not Mexican. And while we are totally okay with people showing love for Mexican culture and our history, it’s another thing to take it on as a way to make money and not give anything back to the people who have nourished it from the beginning. If the Herrera company wants to do right by the Mexican people and the government, they will give each penny from that collection back to the Mexican people, the same people they were essentially trying to financially benefit from.