Diva Did A Bad, Bad Thing

Screenshot 2016-01-23 at 3.09.17 PMOn January 20th, Italian wrap company Diva Milano used Facebook to debut their new line of budget wraps. Diva Essenza 100% cotton twill wraps retail at 77 Euro – about 83 USD. Diva went bare-bones simple with these, and wove some stripes.

There’s only one problem. These Diva stripes look exactly like Girasols. Not sort-of-kind-of like Giras, but utterly identical to the original budget wrap, which won awards as early as 2000. The same colors, in the same order, with the same width stripes. Diva seems to have lifted their new wraps wholesale from Gira’s most popular colorways, including their perennial fav Earthy Rainbow.

Plagiarism is rampant in the wrap society – after all, you can only have so many quatrefoils – but Diva’s is egregious. And as a European company, Diva muddies the waters even further. Their main factory springs from the North of Italy, where their machine looms also churn out fabric for Versace and Armani. They hail from the richest area of Italy, and have been known for mild cultural appropriation, notably for their Indian paisley.These Diva stripes were “designed in Italy”, but manufactured in India. 

Indian manufacturing allows these cut-rate prices, which are significantly lower than almost any in the wrap world.

Girasol, on the other hand, works out of the global South. It’s best to let them describe the work they do:

In the highlands of Guatemala live the Maya Indians, whose knowledge and mastery of old weaving methods still persists today.The men work on a wooden loom, brought there by the Spaniards, and they produce material to sell. The women use the precolonial backstrap loom weaving textiles with old motives, which are mainly used in traditional garments.

The Woman Cooperative ASODAMEC was founded in 1987 with Canadian assistance.Their aim is to enable Indian women, whose men were killed during the civil war , to gain an income to support their families. High-grade chenille yarns are dyed in the traditional Ikat-technique, are woven on the backstrap loom and processed for accessories and garments for export.The project incorporates 200 Maya women, whose work is dependent on the production and distribution of their goods.

 

Piled up divas.

Piled up divas.

GIrasols, therefore, are woven by men and women dependent on weaving as an income. They use the traditional techniques passed down through their families to create useable works of art. All Giras are handwoven; the company doesn’t have a factory. Because they’re handwoven, and the weavers paid fairly, new Giras tend to retail for around $150. So not only is Diva stealing their designs, they’re undercutting their prices. The Italian company takes money from the hands of those who depend on it, both as a livelihood and as a way to preserve cultural traditions.

Stateside, retailers are fuming. Some of these designs, including Granola Babies Wrapper’s Paradise, are store exclusives. You could only purchase a Wrapper’s Paradise from Granola Babies – until now, when you can pick up a Diva Sirena: the exact same colors, in the exact same order.

Diva Milano’s blatant copying is an insult to the wrap community. They must have thought no one would notice. They must have thought that many of us, who learned to wrap on Giras, wouldn’t care about the company or their weavers. People who leave “negative” comments on Diva’s Facebook page –  comments calling out the company for blatant plagiarism –  have seen those comments deleted and their accounts blocked. Shady, shady, shady.

As a community, we need to know let Diva know that this behavior cannot stand. I propose a boycott of all their wraps, not just the new budget line, until Diva agrees to pull the offending products and offer an apology both to Girasol and to the community as a whole. I’m hoping. I’m not holding my breath.
And in the meantime, buy yourself an Earthy Rainbow.