Louis Vuitton collaborates with Mexican artisans after Raw Edges plagiarism scandal
The collaboration was unveiled during the Zona Maco art fair in Mexico City last week - Photo: Miranda Peres/EL UNIVERSAL in ENGLISH

Louis Vuitton collaborates with Mexican artisans after Raw Edges plagiarism scandal

Newsroom/EL UNIVERSAL in English
Mexico City
Fernando Miranda, Antonio Díaz
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In 2019, Louis Vuitton launched a chair featuring Mexican Tenangos and was accused of cultural appropriation

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La Casa Don Juan, a workshop located in Oaxaca, Mexico, is decorating trunks for French luxury brand Louis Vuitton. The collaboration was unveiled during the Zona Maco art fair in Mexico City last week.



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Through a statement, the French brand, which has been previously accused of plagiarizing and appropriating the work of Mexican artisans, said the collaboration includes a selection of trunks that will be decorated by Mexican artisans.

In an interview with EL UNIVERSAL in English, one of the artisans explained that the community has commercialized alebrijes, also known as nahuales, since 1943. Moreover, the animals painted onto the trunks are part of an ancient calendar.

Photo: Miranda Perea/EL UNIVERSAL in English

At Zona Maco, the artisan explained that a person needs between five and six years of training to be able to paint Zapotec nahuales. In order to create these pieces, the Mexican artisans work 15 hours a day for three weeks.

Photo: Miranda Perea/EL UNIVERSAL in English

In order to avoid confusion or plagiarism accusations as in the case of Raw Edges, Louis Vuitton says the clients will work directly with the artisans from the Casa Don Juan workshop.

In 2019, EL UNIVERSAL in English was in touch with the Louis Vuitton team and Raw Edges in order to discuss the cultural appropriation case, however, both brands refused to discuss the issue and said they would release further information, which never happened. Mexican artisans stated they never collaborate with the foreign brands.

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So after the previous scandal, this time Louis Vuitton indicated that there will be fair commerce and that the French brand will follow Mexican laws:

“In regards to fair commerce and the admiration for art and authorship, clients and master artisans will have a direct and open dialogue about the creative process. This project has been created under the highest respect parameters and good practices in the context of the Federal Law of Author Rights and the Law for the Safekeeping of the knowledge, identity, and culture of the Indigenous communities.”

Photo: Miranda Perea/EL UNIVERSAL in English

The luxury brand added that the Louis Vuitton trunk collection, which features hand-painted alebrijes and nahuales, is a mixture of the Mexican and French cultures and their heritage and added that the collection was done: “with respect and admiration for the creative work of the indigenous communities, the great cultural richness of Mexico is portrayed in hundreds of colors and on the talent of its people.”

Louis Vuitton thanked senator Susana Harp, an outspoken indigenous rights activist, for advising the brand in this project.

However, other artisans have hinted that the Casa Don Juan workshop appropriated certain colors and designs, used by other artisans in the region, for their collaboration with Louis Vuitton.

Photo: Miranda Perea/EL UNIVERSAL in English

The Jacobo y María Ángeles workshop, one of the most famous group of artisans in the region announced it will take legal action against them for the “unfortunate coincidences” in the use of patterns, colors, and figures used in the Louis Vuitton trunks. The artisans add that the French brand has no responsibility in the case. The statement has now been deleted.

Recommended: Louis Vuitton insists the brand is collaborating with Mexican artisans

The workshop argues that the designs, patterns, and colors are part of the collective heritage and that over 130 workshops in San Martín Tilcajete make a living by painting and creating alebrijes and that all of them have “the same Zapotec heritage and right.”

Additionally, the artisans who collaborated with Louis Vuitton said it took them over a year to create the pieces they will paint on the trunks.


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