The mixing and appropriation of culture in styling


Fashion is always rooted in culture, inspired by it, embraces global exploration, and taps into music and art to set the tone for visual design.

Fashion designers have borrowed stylistic cues from other cultures for centuries, and today the appeal of traditional designs with an “ethnic” touch is stronger than ever.

Although many times, fashion houses and brands have come under increasing criticism for using symbols, prints and clothing from other cultures. But still cultural appropriation has been used more and more in recent years. The term may be new to the world, but the practice of cultural appropriation has been around much longer.

“’Cultural appropriation’ is an obscure concept. It can be described as the act by a member of a relatively dominant culture of taking a traditional cultural expression and reusing it in a different context, without permission, recognition and / or compensation, in a way that causes harm to the human being. holder of traditional cultural expression. .

Many cases of cultural appropriation can be explained, at least in part, by the fact that copying is so ubiquitous in the global fashion industry. While fashion design is marked by an astonishing level of creativity, imitation remains a major driver of the conceptualization process. Many commentators call this the “pirate paradox,” in which fast copying ensures renewed consumer demand for ever-changing designs. With new trends rapidly shifting from high fashion to fast fashion, designers tend to take a multicultural outlook and resort to exploring an increasingly diverse range of cultural influences to deliver a flow of fresh and innovative styles.

One of the infamous examples of cultural appropriation in fashion is when Gucci came under fire for offering Indy Turban for $ 790 as an accessory on its website. The product debuted at Gucci’s Fall 2018/2019 show on several white models, which upset members of the Sikh community. They later expressed their frustration with the product, explaining that the Sikh turban is not a new accessory for sale but an article of faith for those who practice Sikhism.

Granted, it was easy for Gucci to put Indy Turbans on the ramp and sell them like a hat. However, many Sikh men and women around the world face violence and mistrust in wearing them.

To sum up, it’s not hard to avoid cultural appropriation in fashion. Fashion is above all a question of creativity. Our travels and experiences abroad always have a positive impact on creativity. But fashion design is also a responsibility, especially when you have the opportunity to educate your community about another community that has been oppressed in the past.

A designer must know the difference between respecting and exploiting a culture.


Joseph E. Golightly