Mexico reinvents the trade show by adding artisans and removing cultural appropriation

Designer, Meet Craftsman: Your key link to ensuring cultural appreciation isn’t really cultural appropriation in a thinly veiled mask.

That was Original’s main mission last week, the first of what will become an annual event in Mexico that reinvents the show, where artisans, not salespeople, come to promote their creations and designers don’t just place orders – they engage in collaborations.

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Held at the Complejo Cultural Los Pinos cultural center in Mexico City from November 18-21, Original brought together more than 300 artisans from indigenous communities in Mexico to exhibit their work and invited national and international designers to connect and ensure ethics. are part of cultural referencing in fashion.

More than a trade show, Mexican Culture Secretary Alejandra Frausto Guerrero – who has made a name for herself in fashion by directly appealing to designers like Isabel Marant and Louis Vuitton for using without credit the techniques and iconography of Mexican creators – called the first iteration of Original “a national cultural movement”.

Mexico & # x002019; s Secretary of Culture Alejandra Frausto Guerrero.  - Credit: courtesy of Mexico Secretaria de Cultura

Mexican Secretary of Culture Alejandra Frausto Guerrero. – Credit: courtesy of Mexico Secretaria de Cultura

Courtesy of Mexico Secretaria de Cultura

“For Mexican communities, each garment has a deep meaning and a complex manufacturing process. So, thanks to Original, the two worlds, which are usually separate, that of tradition and that of fashion, can connect and speak on an equal footing, ”Frausto told WWD. “Original builds bridges and makes the tools available to the original creators, and they decide if they take it or not. “

With both tradition (the artisans) and fashion (the designers) under one roof, Original presented seven catwalks with new works from designers, artisans and brands who “collaborate ethically and fairly with designers. and the creative communities of Mexico ”. As part of the organized parades, participants were also able to see the work of 200 textile, accessory and shawl artisans from more than 30 creative communities in Mexico.

Forums were available for discussion and exchange of experiences, including debates on cultural appropriation. Lectures and workshops included training on topics such as copyright, forms of commercialization, and techniques such as the use of natural dyes. There was a business lounge for meetings between brands and artisans (translation services were available as needed), as well as an exhibition and sales room where more than 500 pieces of textiles, accessories, art, ceramics and furniture from 150 artisans were available for purchase. .

Craftsmen at the original fair at the Complejo Cultural Los Pinos cultural center, Mexico City.  - Credit: courtesy of Mexico Secretaria de Cultura

Craftsmen at the original fair at the Complejo Cultural Los Pinos cultural center, Mexico City. – Credit: courtesy of Mexico Secretaria de Cultura

Courtesy of Mexico Secretaria de Cultura

“Original has truly transcendent spaces,” said Frausto, expressing his pride for the first fair. “Just as Mexico’s cultural heritage is diverse, Original’s audience is equally diverse, inclusive and colorful, where we can all weave together the immense web of culture.”

Paty Govea, creator of the namesake slow fashion brand Patricia Govea, who attended the event, would agree.

“The craftsmen of Mexico are the soul and the spirit, they suffered [from] segregation, racism and discrimination. I am so happy and very touched to see artisans from all 68 ethnic groups come together at an event that will have a positive impact on their lives, ”she told WWD.

Govea considers her brand, which is available at Saks Fifth Avenue, “a company with social impact,” where every item in the women’s fashion and accessories collection – from dresses to capes to tote bags – is made. authentically by indigenous artisans.

“For us, merging ancestral methods with haute couture goes beyond any industrial production. It’s a just cause that allows us to make a fundamental difference in the lives of Wixárrikai communities, ”the brand’s website read.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to have the platforms we need and invite all the designers who have been ‘inspired’ by our culture to take notice. [choices] on the granting of credit. In addition, they must ask for permission to promote a culture that is not their own and to give back to communities that lack basic needs, ”Govea said of Original. “My mission is to give a voice and better opportunities to Wixárrikai communities, not only to provide sustainable jobs, but also to integrate education programs and health services for them. They have a rich culture, with sacred symbols and a great story to tell, where each dot represents their culture, each dot represents their tradition and each dot represents a family with the hope of seeking a better world.

With Original, Frausto also has hope for a better fashion world. One that is more ethical, more apt to collaborate than to accept, and where the recognition of the original creators is not uncommon.

“The industry is well aware that by taking a design, reproducing it industrially and brandishing it, it is not paying homage or being inspired by it in any way,” she said. “Plagiarism does not pay homage. Theft is not an inspiration. Modern pirates don’t even risk their lives battling storms at sea, but take whatever they want and mark them like any other type of commodity. It will be a great achievement for the industry to understand that there are original creators who can talk face to face with brands in order to forge ethical relationships and where the original creator gets fair economic reward.

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