The cultural appropriation of indigenous patterns and the commercialization of culture through global fashion brands is a controversial topic in the Western world. Eme Eidson gives insight into the realities of weavers in Mexico and block printers in Laos and India who see their textile designs, passed down through generations, reflected in the pricy collections of Western fashion designers. How can designers respect cultures and not only take from artisans but also give back?
Slow Fashion is a documentary that explores cultural appropriation of indigenous designs in Mexico by an international fashion designer and the way weavers and block printers in Laos and India are working with new sustainable designers, whose principals and practices are based on equality, not hierarchy. A major fashion designer from Paris has been appropriating traditional designs in the community of Tlahuitoltepec in the highlands of Oaxaca, Mexico. In response to this and other instances of global appropriation, Mexico's Ministry of Culture has asked global fashion brands for “a public explanation on what basis it could privatize collective property". Can credit and compensation be given to indigenous communities where the designs come from? Given the vast economic disparity between local communities of origin and the global companies, who are appropriating their designs; it becomes a matter of not only collective property rights, but also human and cultural rights. In Laos, craftmanship and the value of culture is examined by Nanci Takayama, professor/sustainable fashion activist. Working with communities of Laotian weavers, she raises the subject of empowerment of women artisans and weavers and explores alternative socially conscious ways of working with them in collaboration. She focuses on how designers should respect culture and not just take the artisans’ heritage, their designs, but also to give something back in return. In Jaipur, India; Mireia Lopez, a New York City progressive eco-designer, demonstrates how to respect artisans by working in a just and fair manner. Hierarchies disappear and true collaboration occurs, as a people-over-profit philosophy is practiced. Mirea, demonstrates how a fashion designer can practice fairness and collaboration. Metamorphosis is possible and real solutions occur as sustainable practices are chosen. Ultimately, fashion designers must be inclusive and rooted in local needs, resources, and culture. It must include women and give voice to communities, who have been long marginalized by colonial models.