Fashion houses are being racist and we only wonder, why?
It was a day after fashion shows. The feeling has not even sunk in fully—of a new season approaching—when the news broke out. Gucci that highlighted the models wearing turbans and hijabs on the runway for its fall/winter 2018 show at the Milan Fashion Week was under fire. Criticism came from all directions. The brand was held for cultural appropriation. The story just doesn’t end here. We begin now.
The brand was very recently criticised for selling a ‘blackface’ jumper. In the 19th century, blackface was a form of makeup that was used by non-black people to represent a black person. Through this, the performers mocked the portrayal that Africans-Americans were inferior in any way. The turtleneck covered half of the face with a cut-out around the mouth along with red stitching to resemble oversized lips. The blackface jumper which was being sold by Gucci was taken down after those in attendance and later when the images from the runway was released took to social media. After much hullabaloo, the brand had to post a public apology stating that its team believes in diversity and that incidence will prove to be a learning for the entire team.
Last year, in the month of December, Prada, too, was accused of racism after they introduced monkey trinkets (Pradamalia) that more or less looked like blackface. The $550 charm was taken down by the brand after it was spotted at its SoHo boutique in New York.
Prada later released a statement stating that those were just imaginary characters which, in any manner, do not have any relation to the real world. It added that would not engage in anything that would allow racism.
Soon after, the fashion brand owned by singer Katy Perry was also reported to sell shoes that resembled a blackface. The two items known as Rue face slip on loafers and Ora face block heel sandals were selling online and had faces with red lips on top.
The brand also sent out a statement that the items have been pulled out and their intention was not to inflict any pain.
Post this, another statement by Katy Perry was also released, where she spoke how the shoes were envisioned as a nod to modern art.
A part of social media also responded positively speaking that the shoes were available in different colours and hence, it was not the brand’s intention to concentrate over blackface or racism.
It seems unclear if the world is too sensitive or the brands are insensitive?
It was earlier this year when Burberry brought down a model on the runway where she was seen wearing a hoodie with a noose around the neck. With suicide rates increasing at an alarming rate, one of the brand’s models was the first one to take to social media. She further added that she felt triggered and this issue should be brought up. Post this, Riccardo Tisci, the chief creative officer of Burberry Group, apologised stating that the design was insensitive and necessary actions will be taken so that it doesn’t happen in near future.
In the end, the question remains. Do fashion houses consider these as mere faux pas? Or is it just another way to seek attention? A debate is the need of the hour.