Mexico accuses Japanese designer of cultural appropriation

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Japanese designer Junya Watanabe is facing accusations of cultural appropriation related to his recent Fall/Winter 2022 men’s collection.

The video presentation showcased several pieces featuring serapes, the vibrantly striped woven blankets made famous by the communities of Saltillo in Coahuila and Contla in Tlaxcala, Mexico. Though the brand stated that it “invited participation from the Secretariat of Culture of Mexico” to incorporate the indigenous design in its presentation, the Mexican government issued a statement describing its efforts as unethical.

Mexico’s Ministry of Culture accuses Junya Watanabe of cultural appropriation in Fall/Winter 2022 men’s collection featuring serapes.
Junya Watanabe WWD

On Jan. 23, the Ministry of Culture of the Government of Mexico said Junya Watanabe ultimately “put its commercial calendar before the interest of closing an ethical agreement” even though it reached out to start negotiating in late November.

As part of the negotiation, the ministry requested that Junya Watanabe include garment labels recognizing the communities’ rights to the designs, as well as payment for use and funding for materials and equipment.


The brand was also asked to jointly organize an international seminar on collective rights and to consider a future collaboration with artisans of the communities. Junya Watanabe’s parent, Comme des Garçons, proposed exploring a collaboration later down the line.

Source: SIPSE

Mexico Daily Post