Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Cultural Appropriation in Fashion

 "Sioux" Bracelet by Aurelie Bidermann
142 "Chinese New Year Sheep Clutch" by Kate Spade
kate spade new york Hello Tokyo Coin Purse,Kinetic Turquoise/Metropolis Green,One Size"Hello Tokyo" Coinpurse by Kate Spade

Are you excited or offended?

I have some friends who are very fervent about cultural appropriation, arguing that if you are not of the culture, you should not be sporting their culturally-connotative goods. I see how this argument makes sense. I kind of cringe when non-Indian teen girls parade in Native American headdresses. It's a misuse of a cultural status symbol as a fashion accessory. The act reeks of ignorance and disrespect for a culture. I cringe, but is it wrong? It carrying a "Hello Tokyo" kitsch coin purse offensive to Japanese culture? Just because its stereotypical in design does not mean the object intends to offend or cheapen the culture. Native American-inspired jewelry is often considered wrong because it makes money off of "stolen" tribal designs. Ideally, Native Americans alone would profit from their style of tribal design. But is it really "stolen?" Who decides a design's source? What makes something original and something appropriated? And when something is appropriated, when does appropriation become an offensive act?

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