Nike scraps sneakers after backlash over Panama indigenous row
Thursday - 23/05/2019 12:29
Sportswear giant Nike has been forced to pull a funky new retake on its classic Air Force 1 sneakers, after people noticed it looked familiar.
Sportswear giant Nike has revealed it won’t release a funky new version of its Air Force 1 sneakers after objections from an indigenous group in Panama.
The colourful reimagining of the iconic shoe was meant to be released in June and it was supposed to celebrate Puerto Rico.
However, Nike is now accused of “pirating” the style after an indigenous group in Panama objected to one of its traditional designs being used.
The company 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.”
@Nike Guys, these are cool sneakers, and I get the reference to the Coquí frog, but this pattern and design are NOT from Puerto Rico!
It's a design called MOLA, made by the Guna people in Panama and parts of Colombia.
The Guna people, one of seven indigenous groups in Panama, live mainly on the Caribbean coast and have traditionally used the swirling, multi-coloured “Mola” design.
Some noticed the similarities and took to social media to criticise Nike over its use of the design.
The Gunas said in a statement that the company had not asked permission to use the design. Panamanian law recognises indigenous groups’ rights to their intellectual property.
“We are not against our ‘mola’ being commercialised. What we oppose is it being done without consulting us first,” said Belisario Lopez, the traditional leader of the Guna Yala community.
Mr Lopez said the design represents “mother Earth, because the design is based on everything that is nature”.
But, he noted the design “is a dress (style) exclusively for women.”
A lawyer for the group said they didn’t just want the shoe taken off the shelf. They also want compensation.
“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,” Aresio Valiente told a news conference in Panama City.