Image: Isabel Marant

The battle over the traditional Mexican design that designer Isabel Marant allegedly stole from the indigenous people of Oaxaca, Mexico is heating up in more ways than one. Not only are the Tlahuitoltepec people challenging Marant’s usage of the design but Marant is being sued by fellow Paris-based house, Antik Batik, for her use of the design. Antik Batik filed a lawsuit against Marant, claiming that it has secured intellectual property rights in the design and that Marant infringed them by including it in her Spring/Summer 2015 Etoile collection.  

Marant’s lawyer Jean-Marc Felzenszwalbe says the design house, known for its cool French girl vibes and penchant for tribal influences, is vigilantly fighting the lawsuit, telling WWD, “Antik Batik is claiming the property of this specific design. They claim they have created it and that Isabel Marant is counterfeiting it, which is all wrong.” He continues: “We have made it very clear in court that we are not claiming any property [rights] and that these designs come from the village of Santa María in Mexico.” A decision in the case between Marant and Antik Batik is expected later this week.

It is still unclear, however, whether there is any merit to the claims that Antik Batik and French authorities have ordered the Tlahuitoltepec to stop producing its own blouses and to pay royalties to Antik Batik as a result of the rights that the French house allegedly has in the design under French law. However, Marant’s lawyer says the design house is not involved in such demands in any way. “Isabel Marant formally denies having sent or asked any French authority to send or issue any document to the authority of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, Oaxaca, to prevent inhabitants of the municipality from selling their indigenous designs,” he said.

As for the battle with the Tlahuitoltepec, Felzenszwalbe says the parties are close to a resolution: “We are in close touch with the village and its authorities through Perig Pitrou, an ethnologist at the Collège de France and specialist of the village. The Tlahuitoltepec people have said that they do not want any money, but that their work be recognized, which is what Isabel Marant has done in front of the French court.” He added that the Mexican ambassador in France was also on board helping Marant set up a collaboration of some sort between her and the Tlahuitoltepec people.