Nike Faces Backlash Over “Pirating” Traditional Indigenous Design

Nike Faces Backlash Over “Pirating” Traditional Indigenous Design

Sports apparel giant Nike has faced public backlash over its new Air Force 1 sneakers after cultural objections from an indigenous group in Panama.

The shoe was set to be released in June as a colourful celebration of Puerto Rico.

However, Nike has been accused of “pirating” the style after an indigenous group in Panama objected the design.

Nike said in a statement: “We apologise for the inaccurate representation of the design origin for the Nike Air Force 1 ‘Puerto Rico’ 2019. As a result, this product will no longer be available.”

Belisario Lopez, the traditional leader of the Gun Yala community in Panama said: “We are not against our ‘mola’ being commercialised. What we oppose is it being done without consulting us first.”

He added the design represents “mother earth” because the design is “based on everything that is nature”, also noting the design “is a dress (style) exclusively for women.”

According to the indigenous group’s lawyer Aresio Valiente, they didn’t just want the shoe removed, they also want compensation.

Valiente told a news conference in Panama: “There is already damage to our image, to our design, to our mola. We are not going to wait for it to be thrown away, we have to seek compensation.”

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