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15-06-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lela London View Post
You all have made wonderful points.

I think the way it hits negative, for me, is when the 'inspired' pieces are categorized by one set of models. ie. shoots called "Bold in Bollywood" using strictly Indian models.
Do you mind expanding on this further. I'm a little confused by what you mean and I don't want to misinterpret it. Thanks.

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17-06-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YoninahAliza View Post
I think both of you have brought up interesting points regarding this issue. For me I think what bothers me most about cultural appropriation is when people wear a garment and don't realize the backstory behind it.
Thats the definition of fashion victim.

But rather than seeing the negative side of appropriation, I'd rather see the upside, like in japanese streetstyle. No one put it better than Gwen Stefani on her son "Harajuku Girls", there, she uses the line "style dettached from content". Have you seen the amount of cammo used there? And in which ways? And what about the ganguro girls (think asian girls gone black) ... to me this works because it becomes a whole new thing on itself, and I love it. I absolutely adore it.

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10-12-2011
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I was wondering if anyone has thoughts on Karl's latest collection for Chanel, pre-fall 2012? It was inspired by India. Which at first glance seems like a great thing but I don't know if it's just me but I found that the collection bothered me. I think it's because Karl takes inspiration from India yet he's never been to the country. So how does he even know what India is like? Granted I've never been to India either, but as a fashion designer isn't it his job to discover an element of truth (although lots of fashion deals with fantasy too) and put it in his work? Because the India that he dreamt up is a very opulent (which I do recognize is synonymous with Chanel) and it harks back to the day's when India was under British rule. Which wasn't the best time in India's history since it was so oppressive. So do you think that this collection is cultural appropriation? Or am I just overreacting?

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10-12-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YoninahAliza View Post
I was wondering if anyone has thoughts on Karl's latest collection for Chanel, pre-fall 2012? It was inspired by India. Which at first glance seems like a great thing but I don't know if it's just me but I found that the collection bothered me. I think it's because Karl takes inspiration from India yet he's never been to the country. So how does he even know what India is like? Granted I've never been to India either, but as a fashion designer isn't it his job to discover an element of truth (although lots of fashion deals with fantasy too) and put it in his work? Because the India that he dreamt up is a very opulent (which I do recognize is synonymous with Chanel) and it harks back to the day's when India was under British rule. Which wasn't the best time in India's history since it was so oppressive. So do you think that this collection is cultural appropriation? Or am I just overreacting?
I really liked this collection, especially the jewelry, but I have to agree that this is a pretty clean cut example of cultural appropriation. I think the things that bothered you were the same things that bothered me.
Karl preferring not to go to India so not to ruin his own vision of their culture, the time period which this collection takes place, etc. It's basically India viewed through a very narrow Western lens. Not unusual for the fashion world but still problematic.
Karl even said himself that he wasn't going for a realistic portrayal of the country, but when you chose a very specific period of history where India was being oppressed and exploited at the hands of the West, it makes it that much worse.


Last edited by Jasmine04; 10-12-2011 at 09:18 PM.
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13-12-2011
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^I'm glad I'm not the only was who thinks this. I was worried I was. Karl's view on India, like you said, is a very narrow Westernized view of the country and it's culture. I mean I understand to a point about not making a "realistic collection," sometimes you want to live in fantasy land. But it's when you take a real culture and make it look like a glamorized version of itself then that's where I have a problem. Especially when the time period that is being glamorized was so oppressive to those from that country.

But then again, as much as I respect Karl, he isn't a very original man like people think he is. This collection, with this view of India, has been done before.

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15-12-2011
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Originally Posted by The_Ida View Post
Some people are offended easier than others, then. I don't get how you could be offended by other people wearing something related to your culture, even if they have no clue about it. It just means they found it interesting and nice to look at. Maybe it will even get them interested in that particular garment's history. That happened with the keffiyeh, which I think is great.

I wouldn't care the slightest if people started wearing horned helms or whatever is regarded Danish. I just think there are more important things than getting worked up over what people wear.

Perhaps it's not so much the wearing of the Keffiyeh without knowledge of its cultural significance that offends, but a complete disregard for it...


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15-12-2011
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^that is just ridiculous! I can't believe Urban Outfitters would put something out like that. I loved Karl's collection b/c I love Indian inspired things but I suppose my idea of India is a very Western-ized view. I never thought about the implications or how the clothes represent an oppressive period. I do think a a certain glamourized representation of different cultures in inevitable in fashion, but it does ask the question of where the line should be drawn between tasteful and offensive.

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15-12-2011
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Originally Posted by ScarlettLover View Post
^that is just ridiculous! I can't believe Urban Outfitters would put something out like that. I loved Karl's collection b/c I love Indian inspired things but I suppose my idea of India is a very Western-ized view. I never thought about the implications or how the clothes represent an oppressive period. I do think a a certain glamourized representation of different cultures in inevitable in fashion, but it does ask the question of where the line should be drawn between tasteful and offensive.
...and that's an especially difficult line to draw in fashion where offensive is considered artistic and distasteful is considered avant garde.

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15-12-2011
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^That's so true! It is very difficult, I think there is no winning unfortunately since everyone interprets things differently. This thread has really made me think, sometimes I feel like i view fashion too 2-dimensionally, or take it at face value when really there is more of a psychological undercurrent that people don't realize til they're made aware of it.

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15-12-2011
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^Well... Urban Outfitter's has never been a very politically correct brand so I'm not surprised. They got a lot of heat a few months ago because they were labeling everything that was a Native American "print" as Navajo which is a complete disregard to the Navajo culture and traditional patterns used on fabric. And, besides, Navajo is a trademarked name by the Navajo Nation, which mean's UO couldn't use it to sell the products. Even though they certainly tried too. I just find it appalling how companies like UO try to water-down a culture, a group of people and turn them into a poster image of what that culture is "suppose to be like."
Here is a few links to articles about this issue.

http://jezebel.com/5849637/urban-out...es-the-law-say

http://jezebel.com/5851441/urban-out...avajo-products

Also, I thought I would share these posters from STARS (students teaching against racism) which circulated around the internet around Halloween time. I think they are brilliant and certainly get the message across.






lissawriting.wordpress.com

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Last edited by YoninahAliza; 15-12-2011 at 10:57 PM.
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16-12-2011
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I don't have a problem with the Chanel show, I think that one of the by-products of globalization is exposure to culture and Indian history and culture is well-known, not just because of what goes on in India but also because of the migration of East Indians to other continents / countries. I would probably have an issue if a more obscure culture or sacred but not ubiquitous religious symbols were "appropriated" without deeper research being done.

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16-12-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agee View Post
I would probably have an issue if a more obscure culture or sacred but not ubiquitous religious symbols were "appropriated"
An example of this is the swastika.

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17-12-2011
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Don't know if this is going slightly off topic but you can throw the rosary beads into this discussion. The trend has died down now but at its height thanks largely to its use by Dolce and Gabbana in their collections, they were everywhere you turned. It went from a very private, meaningful spiritual to the wearer to become a fashion accessory worn by everyone.
David Beckham, Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Ritchie, Lady GaGa are a few celebrities I can remember wearing them. Granted I don't know whether they were it for spiritual reasons or otherwise but its a classic example "religious appropriation"

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17-12-2011
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^Oh no, rosary beads aren't off topic at all. It's still a form of appropriation. I remember when that trend started I was kinda appalled because half of the people wearing them didn't understand the significance of them. Like you said, Mdankwah, it's a private and spiritual thing for the wearer. For some it probably was a spiritual thing but for others who were just jumping on the bandwagon it was certainly a "ooohh.... this looks pretty" moment. I would never wear rosary beads because it's not part of my religion. Even though I have seen some really beautiful rosary beads and when I went to the Vatican they sold them everywhere. They are gorgeous but that doesn't necessarily give anyone the right to wear them. I just think that a lot of people who aren't aware of culture/religious appropriation. That there is this mentality that they can take whatever they want and use it until they get bored, and then they move onto the next big thing.

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18-12-2011
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I'm trying to think of the term "right" when it comes to using certain items. The idea that you have to earn the right to wear something either through knowledge or cultural background or ethnicity and while you earn it, abstain from using it is just completely absurd to me. I think the efforts to respect the many faces of diversity have once again been misinterpreted and taken into such a literal if not pedantic context where you're not really doing a specific ethnic/religious group any favor or paying any respect but reducing it to an exclusive institution when perhaps they see themselves as a little more than that? or wish the cultural elements they identify with were widespread and not necessarily through UN programs but in popular culture too just so the segregation many experience would migrate into 'integration' territory in a more natural way, without the solemnity some programs choose when approaching them.

Another thing that is similar and that I also see here and in certain 'western' viewpoints is the reduction of third-world countries as merely oppressed nations that should be handled with extreme sensitivity because that's all they are, oppressed countries. Many forget that developing countries are still young, with not just a lot of history that has not even been integrated and social structures coming into place and trying to be sorted out so everyone's in tune with the direction to take, but also with the overwhelming presence of developed countries that through an empire or through a small factory, keep slowing down any progress made in their own favor, while the poor/rich and gender gaps keep growing bigger and bigger despite any local effort. It's a long explanation, but where I'm trying to get by this, is that the oppression (there must be a less martyr-esque word for this..), the continual resistance and the internal conflicts are constant and not synonymous of a cultural paralysis or a point in history that should preferably be forgotten or that is just someone else's fault.. it is all part of a context and everyone has a role, even if it's a minor one, to pretend they don't is to reduce them to an unfair level of weakness, when their 'weakness' is merely just a result of the clashing between a country that's established itself enough to 'check out' others, and a country that's barely recognising the components of its own culture in order to establish itself.

Having explained that, oppression is a result that's existed and will continue for as long as a government chooses to conceive its economy as the origin of a country's welfare and not the consequence of inclusive growth through measures like labour reforms that respond to its own people, issues, potential and is not just the adaptation of European or American reforms. Same goes for health care, education and women's rights. And while you get that in order, oppression will continue, it may be through British hands or through local hands (and I'd venture to say the latter if far more dangerous because of its chances to be covered up), but a more affluent social group will always be on top of it and growing richer, while the rest grow poorer. One may blame foreign interests at all times but a majority has its share of responsibility, down to the people that choose not to pursue education, or work for foreign factories or support romantic movements based on nothing or either refuse any involvement with the government because it's all dirty and downgrading or choose to worship it because you can always get something from it.

Finally getting into my original point , the 100-500 years of developing countries have not been in vain, it breaks my heart when people suggest so (I know nobody did in this thread, but I do get to hear it), resistance and criticism and collective consciousness may come secondary but always manifest themselves to a certain degree, and even when no one would document it, you can still perceive it now through sense of humor, approach to social matters, songs, food, things that people with a history in common do and that does influence the way they react or act in present time. In short, every phase in history that's 'oppressive' comes with culturally 'introspective' sides too. Nothing is just oppression. And even when it's resistance what unifies and strengthens a group of people, the machinery of oppression itself also tends to create benefits that outlive periods in time and scars that must be confronted regularly, which is no comfortable task but you do that that through condemnation and even celebration in order to generate ideas and questions.

And that brings me back to the 'rights', this time for the foreign 'oppressor' (and that's such a ridiculous term, I know) to fantasize about its empires (Karl is not British and I guess the point was that it's all Western) or feel inspired by a European system in an 'exotic' land. I think anyone should be free to refer to it, history may be split into many hands but it's still the trace of all human beings, no matter how unrelated you think it is to you, I don't think anyone should feel like they cannot be inspired by what they know or dream about because there is a cultural or ethnic barrier. Secondly, although there are various ways to project a culture through a fashion show and I feel like it should be done with respect, I don't think we should expect a National Geographic report, and not because fashion cannot give one (I would argue it's perfectly capable of that) but because fashion has the liberty to dive straight into overlooked, microscopic areas like beading techniques, fabrics, silhouettes, colors, aesthetics or myths. Territories that are deemed as too banal to become subjects but that should be revisited and be appreciated by people.

As for rosary beads, I still have mine and love it, I was raised Catholic and hated everything about its organization, I don't hate it now but I still detest it a great deal. I wore my rosary bead cause I thought it was great and yeah, because I liked the idea of making it meaningless. So, in some cases, it's sometimes better not knowing than knowing.

Sorry this is a little too long, I tried to reply to this for days, more as a general sentiment than a specific reply, and this is what happens.

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Last edited by MulletProof; 18-12-2011 at 03:42 PM.
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