The two designs in question have drawn anger from the Ethopian government which is looking at ways to try and protect its national costume from designers making money from what it sees as cultural icons.
Residents of the third-world country have also expressed concern saying it is disrespectful to make money from a national costume. Williamson's designs will cost hundreds of pounds, whereas Ethiopian produced versions would only be around £30 each.
However, a spokesperson for Williamson said the designer was only using the national costume for inspiration for the new collection and meant no disrespect by the designs.
This whole issue raises some valid points: should designers use national costumes or national icons in their collections? Is this really disrespectful to the culture in question or is it really a complement?
These is also another side to the debate. All creative people use something as inspiration. If we arrive at the point where we are not allowed to use anything anyone else has done for inspiration, we would not have much to use for new ideas or different ways to do things. Few designers can come up with something totally new each year without using a previous fashion or look for some form of inspiration.
What are your thoughts on the issue. Should designers be staying away from cultural icons and costumes as inspiration or are these designs fair game for some form of inspiration?
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