The Navajo trend has become so main stream and mass marketed that it is starting to gain a backlash. Though I feel that the current obsession with it is a real excitement and love for the cultural patterns, there are also those companies who exploit stereotypes and make cheap ripoffs of beautiful and historically important work. I can certainly understand how people can take offense to “Navajo flasks” and “Navajo panties”, as is the case for Urban Outfitters who are again under fire for their products.
That said, Navajo people aren’t the only ones whose ethnic art is used for fiscal gain. Every few years there is a new country, a new theme, a new people whose cultural art inspires the modern marketplace. If you look at fashion alone, every season there are new themes inspired from different regions, like batik, ikat, embroidery, mirrors, jacquard, dragons…I could go on. We are pulling from the world around us and we all copy from each other every single day. I think we just need to be sensitive to the history & use themes appropriately.