Surely this whole give credit idea should not be so hard to grasp. It’s straightforward: borrowing without asking permission is, basically, stealing. The rich cultural heritage of indigenous communities is not the pick n’ mix candy counter. (Hello! If it was, you’d have to pay.)
Fashion designers and brands have a beautiful opportunity to collaborate and co-create with artisans, to treat them as equal partners, give them credit and provide fair work. This is a win-win scenario, but for some reason, it hasn’t clicked with everyone yet. Brands keep plundering cultures that are not their own, then seem to be genuinely surprised when it backfires.
Here’s just a few examples: remember when Isabel Marant was accused of plagiarising from an indigenous community in Mexico for her Spring ‘15 Etoile collection? How about when Louis Vuitton referenced traditional Basotho blankets from Lesotho in a 2012 menswear collection - without crediting or working with the originators? Urban Outfitters’ “Navajo Hipster Panty” might have passed you by in 2012, but five years later these ill-advised undies were cited by a committee with members from 189 countries that called on the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organisation to make profiting from cultural appropriation illegal, and stamp out this scourge once and for all. It didn’t work. Because… the Chanel boomerang. And now we have Wes Gordon’s Resort 2020 collection for Carolina Herrera.