The Portuguese government has announced that it is studying legal alternatives against the American brand Tory Burch. The brand, created by the stylist of the same name, has been accused of selling, as if it were his own creation, a piece of traditional Portuguese manufacture.
The so-called camiseira poveira is one of the icons of craftsmanship in the town of Póvoa de Varzim, a fishing region in the north of the country, and is in the process of international certification. The piece is made of thick wool from Serra da Estrela and decorated using striking red embroidery, with designs alluding to the sea, such as fish and crabs.
Important detail: the sweater, in Portugal, has a different meaning than in Brazil. In Lusitanian Portuguese, a sweater is a kind of tracksuit, a blouse with long sleeves.
Something very close to the incomparable Portuguese coat was available on the brand’s website as if it were an original creation. As well as not mentioning Portugal, the item description also stated that the design was inspired by the Baja region of Mexico.
However, several details in the piece make the Mexican-inspired claim overwhelming.
In addition to having all of the original features of Póvoa de Varzim, such as the sea and fishing related designs embroidered in cross stitch, the sweater also bears the symbol of the Portuguese royal family.
The crown of the Portuguese monarchy – which was never really popular in Mexican lands – is stamped directly on the chest of the blouse.
Case echoed on fashion websites such as Diet Prada | Photo: Playback / Instagram / DietPrada
On the American stylist’s website, the piece, with a century-old design and traditionally used by fishermen, was sold for 695 euros (around R $ 4,715): between nine and ten times the value normally practiced by local artisans.
The story came to light after a post by a city politician.
In an interview with the Público newspaper, Ricardo Silva said he learned of the case through a compatriot. He says he contacted the brand via email and social media, but has not received a response.
“It is easy for an international brand to selectively appropriate traditional pieces, which include in their collections ten times the price charged by artisans. It is one thing to use decorative patterns or the structure of the fabric, another to make a copy without even assuming the name of the piece “camisola poveira” in Portugal. It was enough, ”he said.
After the publication of the initial report, several Portuguese invaded Tory Burch’s social networks with complaints.
Initially, the brand made no statement and kept the jacket for sale on the website, however, removing the claim that the piece was Mexican-inspired.
With the repercussions increasing, including on international fashion sites, Tory Burch ended up speaking out.
In a note posted to social media, the brand’s creator left a note – full of Portuguese mistakes – classifying the episode as a mistake and apologizing for what happened.
“It was a mistake not to refer to the beautiful and traditional fisherman’s shirts that are so representative of the town of Póvoa de Varzim” (sic), he said.
According to Tory Burch, the brand is in negotiations with the town hall (town hall) of the city to better support the craftsmen of the city.
It looked like the case would end there, but the Portuguese government decided not to let the story go unnoticed.
In a note, the Culture Ministry said it was already looking for judicial and extrajudicial alternatives to hold the brand accountable for what it called the misappropriation of Portuguese culture.
“Having become aware of the suspicions of a possible misappropriation of an important Portuguese intangible heritage – the Portuguese shirt – the government is determined to act accordingly in the protection of this Portuguese know-how”, indicates the text.
“The government, after having communicated its intention to the municipal council of Póvoa de Varzim, will do everything in its power to ensure that those who have already publicly acknowledged their error do not resign from their responsibilities and correct the injustice committed, by compensating people in the community ”, ends.
Amid the controversies, several Portuguese took a look at the brand’s website and found there were more similarities to the country’s traditional design. In the Tory Burch line of household appliances, there are ceramic pieces inspired by vegetables, especially cabbages.
The dishes and plates with decorative cabbages are the hallmark of one of the most famous Portuguese brands: Bordallo Pinheiro.
On social networks, the brand took the opportunity to make fun of the case.