Isabel Marant is a French fashion house founded in 1994 by designer Isabel Marant. Originally consisting only of a line of jerseys and knitwear, the brand is now best known for its shoes, which have been worn by celebrities including Kate Bosworth, Katie Holmes, Anne Hathaway and Hilary Duff.
The brand was launched, initially in 1990 under the name “Twen,” before being renamed Isabel Marant in 1994. The first runway collection was shown in Spring/Summer 1995. In 2000, Marant expanded her brand by adding “Etoile,” intended to be more affordable and casual than the signature brand. The company has 10 shops worldwide: Paris, New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, Los Angeles, Beijing, Madrid, Beirut, London and has retailers in more than 35 countries.
When Isabel Marant collaborated on a design collection for high street chain H&M in 2013, the line sold out in minutes online and caused the retailer’s website to crash. In her collaboration with H&M, Marant said, “The nice thing with H&M is they don’t want to try to do a cheap version of your own collection… They really respect the DNA of designers.” The clothing has been described as a “combination of androgynous chic and bohemian nonchalance.” Since its inception, the brand has increased 30% in sales each year.
In 2015 the indigenous mixe community of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, in Oaxaca, México, denounced Marant for the plagiarism of the collectively owned traditional design embroidered in their mixe blouses. A Twitter storm followed under the hashtag #miBlusadeTlahui, which pointed out the uncanny similarity of some of Marant’s recent designs to those of indigenous Mexican designers, of Tlauhuitolpec in Oaxaca State, Mexico, who have been designing and making their original hand-sewn shirts for over 600 years in the style of the Mixe indigenous people. Marant’s uncredited appropriation of the designs, virtually stitch-for-stitch, has aroused the anger of the Mixe people for whom the handmade manufacture of the shirts, and their sale, is an important economic and cultural factor. In 2016 the community pronounced again for the recognition of Marant’s deeds in a widespread press conference in Mexico City.
The plagiarism issue has continued to dog Marant, being taken up by the UK Guardian newspaper in June 2015 by journalist Naomi Larsson, who reported that yet another design company named Antik Batik had claimed copyright on the disputed garment, and quoting Marant’s office as admitting the design was from Tlauhuitolpec as a defence against the claim. The Mixe people have received no communication of this acknowledgement, according to the paper’s report.