A popular Australian fashion brand has apologised for taking “inspiration” from an Indigenous Mexican design after a $795 beach dress caused a massive backlash on social media.
The brand’s riders panelled tunic dress is part of a new swim collection and is notable for a distinct cross-stitched peacock design across the chest.
But in Mexico, many quickly saw similarities between that dress and the traditional garb of the Mazatec people of the Oaxaca state.
It wasn’t just the peacocks, either: Other similarities pointed out on Mexican social media included stitched flowers and blue-and-pink ribbons.
According to the newspaper El Universal, some in the Indigenous community of the Mazatec felt that the design and its use as casual beach wear was disrespectful towards their culture.
Representatives from the community reached out to the state government, which issued a statement condemning the garment through the Oaxacan Institute of Handicrafts (IOA).
The IOA “strongly (condemned) the plagiarism by the Australian brand Zimmermann”, El Universal reported.
On Zimmermann’s Twitter and Facebook pages, the backlash was fierce as well.
“Cultural appropriation and plagiarism,” one person wrote.
“Total plagiarism, they should be ashamed,” wrote another.
The company addressed the issue in a Facebook post, saying it “acknowledges” the dress “was inspired by what we now understand to be a traditional garment from the Oaxaca region in Mexico”.
“We apologise for the usage without appropriate credit to the cultural owners of this form of dress and for the offence this has caused,” the statement continued.
“Although the error was unintentional, when it was brought to our attention today, the item was immediately withdrawn from all Zimmermann stores and our website. We have taken steps to ensure this does not happen again in future.”