A new version of Nike’s Air Force 1 shoe has failed to get off the ground on claims that the sportswear company pirated the design from an indigenous culture. The limited-edition shoe was intended to be a tribute to Puerto Rico, but the Guna community of Panama claims that Nike used their traditional mola pattern in the shoe’s design. Not exactly the best look for the research team behind this shoe.
The Guna people are one of seven indiginous groups in Panama and live on the low-lying Caribbean islands of the Guna Yala region. The mola pattern features colorful, swirling designs and geometric figures deeply significant to their worldview. The Guna people aren’t just looking for the shoe’s removal but for financial compensation.
Belisario Lopez, a Guna leader, said in a statement that his people weren’t angry at the design’s commercialization, but that it “was being done without consulting us first.” And also, presumably, that it was being wrongly attributed to Puerto Rican, instead of Guna, culture. “They must recognize that the mola that appears on the Nike shoes is from the Guna people,” he went on to say.
The Air Force 1 Low “Puerto Rico” was slated to be released in June, but now it will no longer be made available. While Nike has apologized for accidentally pirating the Guna pattern, it’s unclear if the Guna will actually receive any financial compensation for the error.