What should fashion companies do?
Fashion companies should work with minority groups to learn about their culture and give credit to them when they are used as an influence. I believe that if fashion companies follow these steps, they will prove that they are willing to show appreciation for other cultures without appropriating them.
What I’ve Learned
After taking an American Indian studies class at SFSU, it opened my eyes up to what Native Americans have endured and the reality of what is happening to them today. I believe that our 21st century society needs to be more educated on the cultural backgrounds of clothing and accessories so that cultural appropriation can be turned into cultural appreciation. If a fashion company wants to use a part of a minority culture, they should collaborate and compensate the minority group instead of claiming the style as their own and not give credit to the original creators.
Most people my age probably know of the clothing store Urban Outfitters. Most of us have probably shopped there too. However, not many of us know about where some of the designs are pulled from. That trendy tribal patterned t-shirt you bought might just look like a regular motif when actually it is a Navajo design. This type of theft contributes to the exercise of dominant culture versus marginalized culture.
Several fashion designers and companies have created clothing inspired by African, Native American, and Black culture. Native tribes have endured a lot of oppression and injustice from the US including broken treaties, and degradation to their land. Not only is their land still being taken from them, but so are their natural resources. Oil is drilled from their land and their water is contaminated from nearby factories. A dominant group ripping off of their culture is just adding to the amount of injustice that they have to go through. They are only given a tiny fraction of money for everything that has been taken from them. Moreover, black people have always been treated differently from white people and are victims of police brutality. These fashion brands have tremendous influence over the fashion world and inspire countless editorials and magazine pages. Fashion companies have a responsibility to give credit and compensate minority groups for using their culture as an influence.
Cultural appropriation is one of the top controversies in the fashion world today. However, many fashion houses and designers are appropriating other cultures in their designs and fail to realize the negative impact it has. The fashion industry has been accused of being insensitive and unapologetic when it comes to cultural appropriation and supports others to do the same in the name of fashion. I decided to conduct a survey of 50 SFSU students, and found out that more people didn’t think cultural appropriation is a big deal, which is why the issue of cultural appropriation is even more problematic.
Is Cultural Appropriation A Bad Thing?
Cultural appropriation may be deemed by some as trivial. However, with the rise of police shootings against unarmed black men and Islamaphobia, there is an increasing rage against cultural appropriation. The debate over cultural appropriation is gaining more attention from the media, but mainly in a negative light. Fashion designers are receiving backlash on social media for having things such as models wearing cornrows or displaying African or Native American inspired designs on the runway. However, while the general public receives more attention in the media, those with the money and power in this industry get to continue appropriating other’s culture.
Cultural appropriation is a large and growing issue in the fashion industry and is gaining more and more attention. Chief fashion correspondent of The New York Times, Alexander Fury, wrote “Marc Jacobs and the Appropriateness of Appropriation”, published in 2016 in The New York Times. In his article, he claims that the debate over cultural appropriation in the fashion industry draws a lot of controversy and criticism over social media. He gives his reaction to the incident and deems that our current generation is extremely analytical and critical. Fury persuades the reader and strengthens his point by using figurative diction and intense graphics to appeal to his reader’s emotions and citing facts through his use of ethos.
My topic is focused on cultural appropriation in the fashion industry. Cultural appropriation occurs when a dominant culture adopts elements from a minority culture. This appropriation often occurs when a person has no real understanding of the meaning behind what they are wearing and converts it into meaningless pop culture. I am a Pre-Apparel Design and Merchandising major and hope to design my own clothing line in the future. As a person of color, I have to live with the stereotypes of Asian women everyday.