by Jessica Gaertner - May 27, 2019 Fashion News
Cultural appropriation and misinterpretation is everywhere you look when it comes to fashion. Whether it is a sweater that evokes blackface, headwear that resembles a Sikh turban, traditional jewellery that is used out of context, or even a hoodie modelled by a black child that reads “Coolest monkey in the jungle.” No offence or misuse is ever intended, but somehow it always creeps in and can be incredibly damaging to brands.
Cultural appropriation is defined as “the act of adopting elements of an outside, often minority culture, including knowledge, practices, and symbols, without understanding or respecting the original culture and context.”
A few months back a major luxury label made this very mistake by creating a black turtleneck with garish red, lips that reminded many people of blackface and the backlash was huge. However, Brandice Daniel, who is a strong and respected CEO and businesswoman in the fashion community saw this mishap as a chance for change.
Daniel – an African American woman – although disappointed, approached the matter with an open mind and applied her knowledge and lessons learned from the civil rights movement. She went on to acknowledge that “If history teaches us anything, it is that usually things get worse before it gets better.”
“There cannot be inclusivity without accountability.”
Her unique perspective and input, resulted in this designer label announcing a sweeping new diversity initiative.
The fashion community as a whole is embracing this incident as a pivotal learning curve and is now calling on the expertise of individuals, who share the same values and initiative as Brandice Daniel, more than ever.
It’s safe to say that no matter how much progress is made, slip-ups will still occur. There is always going to be a fine line between pushing boundaries and overstepping the line, and one man’s groundbreaking vision will always be another’s outrage. However, the best we can do is use every progression and regression as a learning experience which can be used to grow, evolve and flourish.