NEW YORK, NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 10: Models walk the runway for Zimmermann fashion show during February 2020 – New York Fashion Week: The Shows at SIR Stage37 on February 10, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows)
On Tuesday, Australian womenswear brand Zimmermann announced on Twitter the release of its resort swim ‘21 collection. After revealing images of the line, allegations of cultural appropriation followed, with many users on the social media platform pointing out that the embroidered design on one of the dresses looked “plagiarized” from designs that artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico, have been crafting for hundreds of years. The brand has since apologized and pulled the dress from the website.
Called the Riders Panelled Tunic Dress, the style is an off-white mini with ruffled, short sleeves. It features embroidered bird and floral designs and pink-and-blue ribbon detailing. “This is stolen from ceremonial regalia of people of the Huautla de Jiménez Oaxaca region,” wrote Sue Boyde in response to Zimmermann’s tweet showcasing the dress. Another user, @salsaDchicatana, tweeted: “You are using an original design from the community of Huautla de Jiménez, Oaxaca. So basically, you are stealing their design and using an unauthorized reproduction of such design under your brand, which is clearly an unfair trade practice.” La Opinión de Poza Rica, a newspaper from Veracruz, Mexico, wrote, “The Zimmermann brand plagiarizes a model of the ancestral Mazatec huipil and sells it for $850.” At the time of publishing, more than 60 people had responded to Zimmermann’s post, many of whom echoed the same sentiments.
Now Instore: Resort Swim 21. Pictured, the Riders Panelled Tunic Dress & Wide Brim Boater. Shop the Look > https://t.co/2yZiFNH6sR. #ZimResortSwim21 #zimmermann pic.twitter.com/aVpQtBLn53
— ZIMMERMANN (@ZIMMERMANN_) January 12, 2021
Shortly after the image was released, The Oaxacan Institute of Handicrafts (El Instituto Oaxaqueño de las Artesanías) put out a statement. In it, the organization asked Zimmermann to explain the “iconographic and technical elements” included in its resort swim ‘21 collection. The statement also asked for recognition of the artisan work featured. “[Zimmermann] markets a multicolored tunic-style dress in its Resort 2021 collection [that features a] design and iconography [that] corresponds to the Mazatec populations of the Cañada region of our state, mainly Huautla de Jiménez and San Bartolomé Ayautla,” the statement, written in Spanish, stated.
Desde #Oaxaca hacemos un llamado enérgico a la marca ZIMMERMANN para que explique los elementos iconográficos y técnicos de las piezas de su colección Resort Swim 2021, así mismo pedimos el reconocimiento al trabajo artesanal de los pueblos de la región cañada y papaloapan. pic.twitter.com/wVy6KlJm9f
— ArtesaniasdeOaxaca (@IOA_GobOax) January 13, 2021
According to the organization, the garment in question is distinguishable by its embroidered cotton textiles, which Mazatec women have been making for centuries and “use with pride in their traditional festivities.” The statement continued, “The embroideries are made with the cross-stitch technique, […] and represent different symbolic elements such as …read more