Louis Vuitton copies Masai Fabric

Monday, July 2, 2012







So Louis Vuitton unashamedly copied the Masai people of Kenya by using Masai Fabric in LV's latest menswear range.  I first saw this in a Fantastic Man editorial where the credits said ''Masai shorts by Louis Vuitton, $900.000.000.0000.000''.  Should we Africans get upset about it? If only the Masai people are not at all financially compensated.  Do you think they should be? I don't know what happened in this particular situation obviously but it's not the first time African prints, fabrics and general ideas are taken by famous designers and used to make coffers of cold hard Euros and Dollars.  Is it ok?  

Why haven't we made money from our own ideas as Africans? Why haven't we taken ideas from other continents and became super rich from them? When I saw this, as a business person and somebody who likes pretty things, I thought. Mmm these things look nice, but something didn't quite sit right with the fact that to this day, this kind of one dimensional flow of ideas from one hemisphere to another is still happening, what are the Kenyans getting for this I wonder? 

7 comments:

Chandra said...
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Chandra said...

I couldn't agree more. The amount of times top international fashion houses have "borrowed" from African cultures. It's come pretty obvious these past three years - starting with Burberry. It's very sad.

lungi said...

I don't know. How African is that fabric really? Do we even know where it originated. I think we must be careful with statements like this, or else we as Africans might be accused of "stealing European things" ourselves.
Like seshoeshoe fabric fro example, wasn't it first printed in Hungary (I might be wrong here).
And Ankara wax print, isn't it Dutch?
So how African are "our" fabrics really?

everythingelseishere said...

at the same time we are born with these very african things around us and never acknowledge or see the prospects of them being valuable until people from other continents use them.

Chandra said...

Didn't think about that everythingelseishere. Very good point. Why do we wait so long to use what we have? LAMB, Burberry, Louis V and a couple of other have done it/are doing it. This would make a very interesting article...

Milisuthando Bongela said...

It's precisely because they are commonplace to us that we don't use them - we are used to our own surroundings and don't see them the same way foreigners or people who are not used to them see them - we don't see enough value in them. Europeans are seasoned at coming and taking from every single continent what they want and exploiting it to make money from it. So I guess maybe it's our own fault. Surely if we also traversed the continents with their expedience we would also be rich but that is not how history went down. It's human nature to marvel and place value on something new, it's a pity we never did that with the new things they brought over from Europe into Africa. In relation to this though, I don't think that it's fair for them to be so blatant and not compensate the Kenyans, I really hope they have been compensated somehow - maybe LV gets some of the actual fabric produced there, or there has been some skills transferal or reciprocal action.

Phendu said...

Fashion and media have always operated on the basis that nothing belongs to anyone, even culture... so its up to Africans to start capitalising on what belongs to us but our main issue is that very few people are willing to go there and the few who do arent celebrated enough, because the world is so Westernized and it is only when Western brands use our culture as inspiration that we take a second look

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