Nike ditches shoe design after being accused of appropriation by Panama's indigenous Guna
Sports giant Nike has removed its newly-designed Air Force 1 shoes from shelves after Panama’s indigenous Guna community accused the company of stealing the traditional design which is “a spiritual part of the Guna people.”
The special collection for Puerto Rico was expected to be released in June, before Nike withdrew sales after apologizing for copying the design related to the ethnic group.
“We apologize 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,” the company said in a statement.
The multicolored ‘Mola’ design has been traditionally used by Guna people who live mainly on the Caribbean coast of Panama.
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“We are not against our ‘Mola’ being commercialized. What we oppose is it being done without consulting us first,” said Belisario López, the leader of the Guna community adding that the design represents “Mother Earth, because the design is based on everything that is nature.”
Guna lawyer Aresio Valiente said that along with the product’s withdrawal the indigenous people also expect Nike to pay damages for illegally using the traditional ethnic design.