It's A Thin Line: Cultural Appropriation vs. Appreciation in Fashion

Posted on July 29 2016

There is constant pressure on fashion designers to create collections — collections that are critically acclaimed and commercially successful. It's been interesting to observe how fashion houses are meeting this demand. 

 "Diversification and inclusiveness" in the arts has sparked much debate and controversy over whether there is mutual exchange (among designers of various cultures) to ensure proper cultural representation.That being said, designers must strive to look beyond stereotypes and engage with cultures that inspire them, even going as far as to work with designers from those cultures in the production of a collection. 

 No matter what side of the argument you're on, it wouldn't hurt to explore different perspectives (with clickable images and quotes) on how designers walk the tight rope between culture appropriation and appreciation on the runway:

 "Finished in cornrows and Masai accessories, Valentino’s Spring/Summer 2016 collection showcase was described in Vogue  as a message in “tolerance and the beauty that comes out of cross-cultural expression;" however, only 8 of the 90 looks featured were worn by models color.  And in its subsequent critiques, fashion journalists praised the “Africa-themed” collection, ignoring the fact that Africa is a continent with many different traditions, cultures, and styles."

Image: Imaxtree

 "For Spring 2014, brother and sister designers, Nicholas and Christopher Kunz explore the spiritual roots of the small bands of indigenous people that formed the Ndee or Apache Nation. Antique smudge fans found on a reservation in the mountains of Central Arizona sparked the inspiration of a shamanistic journey that is embraced by the brand’s own nomadic urban roots."

"Riccardo Tisci's "Victorian Cholas" inspired both criticism and appreciation when he presented the Givenchy fall 2015 collection. In addition to oversized and bejeweled faux facial piercings, the models were styled with curled, slick baby hairs along the hairline — a look lifted from Black and Latina subcultures that many also now associate with FKA Twigs and that popped up last year at DKNY."


Image: Imaxtree

Is this simply "art imitating life" or "paying homage" to cultural differences? Are designers exploiting cultures with a "couture" label designed to keep them relevant? What's your perspective, lovelies?!




Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing

Recent Posts

Join our Mailing List

Sign up to receive our daily email and get 15% off your first purchase.