By Vaishali Dar
Time and again fashion brands have made a variety of style statements in order to make their designs either more popular or to even spark a scandal. They continue to introduce new trends or products, and while some of them work well, others fall flat in their faces. However, the ever-evolving brands have never failed to amaze their loyal customer base with out-of-the-world creations, irrespective of whether they work or not.
Many luxury fashion brands have come under fire of late for misusing or misrepresenting the cultural, religious, sentimental or traditional experiences of their consumers. Here’s a look at a slew of luxury fashion-wear brands that have faced backlash in the public domain recently.
World-renowned Italian fashion house Gucci was very recently criticised for marketing a $800 Sikh turban that resembles a religious article. The head-wear— modelled by a caucasian male at Milan Fashion Week show last winter—aroused social media and other fashion critics for its offensive design of the turban. The turban is one of the most important and symbolic articles of faith for Sikhs, and its usage as a fashion accessory drew a lot of flak for the brand. According to the religious community, Sikhs have accused the designer of appropriating the head-wear — which has significant religious meaning — for profit.
But this is not the first time that Gucci has come under scanner for selling culturally insensitive clothing. The brand has, in the past, faced complaints on its women’s jumper which was similar to ‘blackface’. As per news reports, the Italian fashion label was embroiled in a “racism row” when shoppers and online followers pointed out that the ‘balaclava jumper’, which depicted a cut-out at the mouth of the sweater, was outlined in red.
However, soon after, an apology was submitted by Gucci and the product was pulled down from its website and stores. As per a story on The New York Post, Gucci said, “We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make. We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organisation and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond.”
Besides Gucci, global fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana has also been accused of hurting religious or cultural sentiments. The brand had to once, cancel a fashion show in Shanghai after being accused of posting a racially insensitive promotional commercial on Instagram. According to CNN, three videos that were posted on D&G’s social media accounts show an Asian model struggling to eat pizza, a cannoli and a bowl of spaghetti with chopsticks.
Another time, Prada also had to apologise for a monkey bag charm; H&M faced criticism for featuring a black boy wearing a sweater with the phrase ‘coolest monkey in the jungle’. This was up on their website too for sometime. Italian fashion designer Riccardo Tisci debuted his Burberry autumn/winter 2019 collection at London Fashion Week, which featured a hoodie with strings that resembled a noose around the neck. Even outwear label Moncler joined the list with the launch of their new collaboration with art collective Friends With You. The jackets designed resembled the blackface figures seen in minstrel shows. Malfi was the cartoonish figure printed on jackets and shirts.
While all this is left to newsworthy headlines, many such fiascoes have raised eyebrows about the objectionable products, even as the questions remain unanswered: How do these designs get approved, produced, and distributed ? Does diversity in manpower help in engaging a heterogeneous approach to launch any new design? Maybe a fresh perspective of the workforce will help in understanding the sensitive aspects of fashion world.