There is no denying my endless love and strong passion for fashion. At a very young age, fashion became a part of my life. After school I would beg my mother, who was a single mom and worked like crazy to make sure I was always well-kept, to take me shopping so I could get the cutest clothes out. But with everything in life, including myself, comes flaws and in fashion one that really concerns me is cultural appropriation. Black culture is not just valued and loved by black people but sadly, by others who can make money off of it by trying to recreate it and label it as their own.
I had someone ask me a few weeks ago if at any point in my life I wished I was white and I responded without hesitating, “absolutely not”. Black women and men are super amazing and I wouldn’t trade us for the world. With so many reasons backing up how dope we are, why would I want to be white when they often try so hard to look, dress, and be like us? The fashion industry could never survive without us, to be very honest. I’m not quite sure if it’s my age or social media but I have been thinking about cultural appropriation I have seen in fashion, which has made me wonder what these business people are thinking or if they are actually thinking at all. Lets discuss!
You may or may not be aware but in September of 2016, the U.S. Court made it legal for employers to discriminate against employees and applicants with dreads. This is not only disgusting but also disturbing to me. Knowing someone is extraordinarily talented and qualified for a job, but could still be discriminated and possibly turned away because of their hairstyle doesn’t quite make sense to me. This is “supposedly” the home of the brave, land of the free but we can’t even make simple choices like how we want to wear our hair without being judged. Being a black woman with curly hair, of course especially in corporate settings, I have had ignorant white people make comments or ask about my hair. Not all, but too many, tend to think people with dreads do not wash their hair and are not clean. *puts my hand over my face and shakes my head*.
The picture above is from Marc Jacobs’ Spring 2017 runway show. I would love to know why no one pulled the designer aside and said, “hey, ya know, I don’t think this such a great hairstyle to choose for the models. Lets think of something else”. This wouldn’t be the first time Marc Jacobs had black people looking him, as well as his brand slightly twisted. In 2015, he came out with a new foundation and a picture circulated around the internet of the 22 shades, with only 3 being dedicated to black women. I guess we aren’t the most versatile group of women, whose melanin varies like none other. Black people get so much hell for their hairstyles that have been past down from generations, rooting back to Africa but when white people wear their hair in these same styles it’s all of a sudden new, unique, and cool. This is just like when Khloe Kardashian put a picture on Instagram with Bantu knots and a caption saying “Bantu Babe”. White people loved her hair and ate it up but give weird stares when black people do the same. I do my hair in Bantu knots all the time, so I saw nothing new or unique about her hairstyle.
I know people who absolutely love the Kardashians/Jenners, I’m sorry but I can’t relate. Out of them all, I probably give Kylie the side eye the most. From her lips to her body shape, she has tried her best to exemplify the beauty of black women instead of just accepting herself for who she is. This durag situation might have been when I realized I was completely over her. During fashion week people loved her cool hair “accessory”. All my life I have seen black boys/men wear durags to sleep so their waves can stay fresh and sometimes even wearing it outside on their block or at the gas station. Now, the problem is, when black men wear a durag out in public they are automatically looked at as ghetto or a thug but when a wealthy, white women wears it to a fashion show she is applauded. Someone tell me how that works? I will wait.
Gucci and Balenciaga, please do better. Now don’t get me wrong, I did a post Gucci Everywhere , where I talk about Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele and all the wonder changes he’s made to the brand but then something came up that I could not look past. On the left is a picture of a Dapper Dan creation from 1989 for Olympic sprinter Diane Dixon, next to a picture of a jacket from Gucci’s 2018 Resort runway show. My love for fashion and hip-hop go hand and hand, but if you do not know who Dapper Dan is, make it your business to find out! Luxury brands sued him, which forced him to close his boutique in Harlem. A lot of major fashion labels in the 80s did not want to be associated with hip-hop, so Dapper Dan took what they were doing, put his own twist it, and catered to hip-hop culture. After getting much backlash for the jacket, Gucci claims they were paying homage to Dapper Dan. Homage is cool and everything but he deserves much more than that; a check would be nice. And why wasn’t this “homage” mentioned before the picture was released?
For Balenciaga’s Spring 2018 Mens show in Paris, they revealed a shirt with a logo that instantly stood out to me. As you guys know, I’m from Philly and one of the best female rappers is from my city… Eve. Eve was a part of one of the biggest record labels in the 90s, Ruff Ryders. The logo on the Balenciaga shirt is indeed a copy of the Ruff Ryders logo; no one can tell me different. Balenciaga took this specific runway picture down from their Instagram account but even Swizz Beatz, whose family founded Ruff Ryders, had much to say about this. I know fashion is constantly repeating itself and designers are being inspired daily by streetwear but there is a huge difference between inspiration and completely stealing the art of black people. We’re lit, creative, and sensitive about our s**t , so they can admire our culture because without it, where would fashion really be? But need to check themselves when they’re getting ready to do too much and give us the credit/coins we deserve!
Let me know your thoughts on this post and cultural appropriation. If you’re not already doing so, follow along for more posts and pictures on Instagram – @lookinthemirah