London Fashion Firm KTZ Is Dropped Right Inuit! Label 'Copied Holy Man's Design to Make Sweatshirt'

The Evening Standard (London, England), November 27, 2015 | Go to article overview

London Fashion Firm KTZ Is Dropped Right Inuit! Label 'Copied Holy Man's Design to Make Sweatshirt'


Byline: Matt Watts and Benedict Moore-Bridger

A LONDON fashion label was today threatened with legal action after it used an Inuit holy man's design for a sweatshirt.

Kokon To Zai, which counts Kanye West and Rita Ora as fans, has been accused of copying a garment designed by Aua, one of the last shamans of the Canadian Inuit, in 1922.

His great-granddaughter Salome Awa said she was shocked by the sweatshirt's resemblance to a garment created by her ancestor to protect himself from drowning. It featured in the label's Autumn/Winter menswear catwalk show in London.

The claims follow a similar row at New York Fashion Week this year, when Native American fashion designer Bethany Yellowtail accused the company of copying one of her dresses featuring a design from her great, great grandmother. The shaman's garment featured in 2006 film The Journals Of Knud Rasmussen, based on his meeting with a Danish anthropologist, while images of Aua in the outfit also appear in books on Inuit culture.

Mrs Awa, 50, is a producer for CBC News in Nunavut, a vast territory in the Canadian Arctic which is home to 28,000 Inuit. She said: "They must have seen it and copied it. They even called the clothing Shaman. My greatgrandfather was a very powerful and respected man and he has been used and violated. It was disgusting to see a sacred design used as a sweater.

"We are a proud people and our ancestors and traditions are very important to us. …

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