Elise McMahon, Likeminded Objects artist, is under fire for mimicking Southeast Asia's "basahan"

Over the previous week, an American brand has come under fire from Filipinos for their vibrantly colored woven textiles that closely mimic a basahan from the Philippines.


On Tuesday, Feb. 8, Likeminded Objects artist Elise McMahon was covered on Vogue Runway's Instagram account, where she discussed about her recent product recycling project.

Elise McMahon, Likeminded Objects artist, is under fire for mimicking Southeast Asia's "basahan".

McMahon told Vogue that the "overabundance of T-shirts in America" inspired her to utilize fabrics into a much more usable tool.


"Textile has this unique property that it’s pliable and can have many lives. It can continue to be washed, dyed, torn apart and reconstructed into something new. I don’t believe in textile waste. There’s no need for it to be discarded. This is a familiar thing of a potholder loom, but jumbo," she explained.


Meantime, Filipinos gathered to the comments section of Vogue Runway to draw attention to its resemblance to the basahan.


"In the PHILIPPINES we call it DOORMATS," wrote user @pauloinmanila, while @gilerric added: "In Philippines we make those for doormats. $2 or ₱100 for 3 pcs."


Regine David presumed her work was great, but she was disappointed that many cultures who had been upcycling fabrics "for much, much, much longer" were not recognized.


Several have stated that, in addition to the Philippines, loom weaving is popular in some other Southeast Asian countries such as India and Indonesia.


"These are common doormats in South Asia and Latin America lmao," said @anieenm.


"in Indonesia, it’s common to see this woven method as well. crafters changed those tees into doormats," wrote @kemiri.


User @nicapurr said: "when its a white woman, u get called 'genius' and 'iconic' a literal savior of the fashion industry waste lmaoo. when southeast asian women have been doing these for yearssss."


Rags2Riches, a domestic social entrepreneurial maker that has been turning scrap fabrics and textiles into decorations since 2007, was also referenced by some to be among the pioneers.


"This is a Filipino handicraft spanning years of upcycling discarded fabrics to rags then couch throws and pillow cases to accessories nowadays," wrote user @chrisagliam, tagging the local brand and anonymous fashion watchdog group, @diet_prada.


McMahon addressed the criticism in a sequence of Instagram Stories on February 8.


She stated in one of her story that having to learn plenty concerning T-shirt weaving in the Philippines had been "inspiring."


"Lots of important conversations to have and unpack around textiles, aesthetics and global material culture tomorrow after some sleep," she wrote.


McMahon noted in yet another story on Instagram that she is "definitely aware" that used textile weaving is really nothing new, but she "hopes more people would do it."


She is indeed informed of the objectionable remarks made about her work, which Filipinos observed to a basahan or doormat.

"Through these comments last night and today I learned about this amazing weaving style, Basahan, using tshirt material that has long been happening in the Philippines and have been rushing to educate myself since," she wrote. She also expressed her admiration for the practice and the dedication done by individuals to reuse waste.


McMahon, who describes herself as an upcycling nerd, explained that her brand's newest work seeks to encourage recycling and show the art of loom weaving to the American community, who "have a huge habitual problem," through instructional sources such as books and videos.


Correspondingly, she claimed that their loom's "simplicity of method and structure" is indeed what distinguishes them. McMahon described that the loom or weaving process they're instructing is based on potholder looms, which is a simpler process than the "beautifully intricate and complex Basahan method."


McMahon stated that she is welcoming to having a proper discussion to anyone else about the subject.

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