The fast-fashion online clothing seller Shein said Thursday it has dropped an embroidered floral blouse after the Mexican government complained it appropriated designs made for generations by Mayan women on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.
The bold colored, heavily embroidered flowers and swirl patterns are normally used by Mayan women on loose-fitting, calf-length white cotton shifts that are ideal for the region’s heat.
The version offered by Shein more resembled a traditional blouse.
Shein said it had removed “the product in question” from its website. “It is not our intent to infringe anyone’s valid intellectual property and it is not our business model to do so,” the Chinese-based company said in a statement.
Mexico’s Culture Department said Wednesday that it had sent a letter to Shein demanding an explanation.
“These designs are handed down from generation to generation, and thus they are product of the collective creativity that belongs to the Maya people,” the department wrote in the letter.
“They represent not only their natural surroundings, but they also form part of their cosmovision, because they are related to the joy of living, they reflect their emotions and feelings, and thus they form part of their identity as Maya people and Mayan culture,” the department said.