Nike Pulls Puerto Rico Themed Air Force 1 Following Controversy of Panamanian Design Plagiarism

May 22, 2019
4:19 PM

Nike was set to release a new version of their Air Force 1’s with a Puerto Rico theme in June, in anticipation of the Puerto Rican Day Parade. But the company announced that they were pulling the design following claims of cultural appropriation and plagiarism of the indigenous “Mola” design from Panama. Panama is one of the few countries that recognizes indigenous’ groups rights to intellectual property.

The traditional leader of the Guna Yala community, Belisario López, said in Panama City during a press conference: “We are not against our ‘mola’ being commercialized. What we oppose is it being done without consulting us first.”

Panamanian DJ Clark Kent also explained the meaning behind the “Mola” design:

This is what the Air Force 1’s looked like:

Twitter reactions ensued, with many saying it was a good decision to pull the design and calling out that it was not reflective of Puerto Rican culture.

At least two people are mourning that the design won’t be available:


The company said in a statement: “We apologize for the inaccurate representation of the design origin for the Nike Air Force 1 ‘Puerto Rico’ 2019. As a result, this product will no longer be available.”