Racism in the Fashion Industry

Discussion in 'Fashion... In Depth' started by HeatherAnne, Jan 24, 2014.

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  1. HeatherAnne

    HeatherAnne Well-Known Member

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    Please keep in mind this thread is located in the Fashion In Depth section of the forums which has very specific rules:
    *Please note in those that we do not allow quick remarks, and instead require thoughtful commentary.

    Absolutely no name calling or insulting other members, regardless of their opinions, will be allowed.

    Racial Diversity in Modeling has been one of our most successful threads, and has lead to some direct changes in the industry. Let's have this thread operate in the same civilized and intelligent manner, this is too important of a subject to ignore.
     
  2. HeatherAnne

    HeatherAnne Well-Known Member

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    A few pieces to get us started:

    styleblazer.com


    newsone.com
     
    #2 HeatherAnne, Jan 24, 2014
    Last edited by moderator : Jan 24, 2014
  3. HeatherAnne

    HeatherAnne Well-Known Member

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    And let's not forget the Chanel Paris-Dallas Pre-Fall 2014 show -- SugarMe pointed out that Native American contoversies have often plagued the fashion industry:

    http://forums.thefashionspot.com/showpost.php?p=12170457&postcount=84

    + Purple Magazine
     
  4. HeatherAnne

    HeatherAnne Well-Known Member

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  5. HeatherAnne

    HeatherAnne Well-Known Member

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    So, discuss! Or read and digest. But hopefully (please!) bring pieces in as you see them. :flower:
     
  6. maxlinden

    maxlinden Active Member

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    I can't even find words to..
    [​IMG]
    guycodeblog.mtv.com
     
  7. Marc10

    Marc10 Moderator

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    I rolled my eyes so hard at this:

    style

    "I'm black, and I want to push [the idea] that Balmain is for different cultures, different ethnicities. It's for all the girls in the world." Yeah and your idea to achieve that is booking a black model and making a Africa-safari inspired collection? I mean, seriously? :rolleyes:
     
  8. anlabe32

    anlabe32 Well-Known Member

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    I'm sorry, but I fail to see some of these as offensive. The Purple Magazine for example. Is it prohibited to recreate an image or scenery? Then all the movies about Indian's should be banned as well.

    Oh and how about the Prada or Louis Vuitton headdresses?

    The black woman seat is absolutely ridiculous and disgusting though.
     
  9. Mr-Dale

    Mr-Dale Unveil Yourself....

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    Regarding the Native American headdress controversies in recent days, I have always been incredibly astonished by the fact that those are seen as racist outings. Maybe it is because I am European that I find it difficult to relate to those who are offended by it - seeing how there is no history here concerning racism towards the Native American. For me the use of references to the Native American culture are no different than designers referencing nuns, codes from Arabian cultures or Asian tradititonal clothing.

    There are plenty of headdresses that have now become iconic in the fashion industry (Gaultier anyone?) because the designers acknowledged their beauty, got inspired by it and created something amazingly poignant. Is that not what fashion is all about?

    Whenever designers use something from my culture or national history I feel great pride about it. If a headdress is racist, is a Western take on the kimono or the burqah not racist as well? I just don't feel the term racist is in place when it comes to being inspired by other cultures.

    So why is it that headdresses are perceived as racist and kimonos are not? Wherein lies the difference?
     
  10. TheoG

    TheoG Moderator

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    I agree. I have read that Native American headdress or War Bonnet what there actually. They presented as symbols of honor and respect and have to be earned. Some communities give them to children when they become adults through special ceremonies, others present the feathers as a way of commemorating an act or event of deep significance. Warbonnets especially are reserved for respected figures of power. The other issue is that warbonnets are reserved for men in Native communities. In my opinion someones cultural dress shouldn't be present on a runway, what the point?
     
  11. Mr-Dale

    Mr-Dale Unveil Yourself....

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    But wouldn't fashion be completely boring and pointless if we weren't allowed to reference anyone's cultural attire or tradition? And with that, art as well?

    In the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show where Karlie's outfit was deemed as offensive due to the headdress, Hilary Rhoda was clad as a leprauchaun, which is a sacred figure in Irish folklore. Is that not the same? Shouldn't we just accept that some things become embedded in global popular culture and lose any connotation of oppression, cultural robbery or deliberate offensiveness over a long course of time?
     
  12. MulletProof

    MulletProof Well-Known Member

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    I think it depends on the way it's portrayed, hopefully not as a cartoon and like Chanel claimed, as a way to celebrate their techniques, and aesthetic too.

    The black girl bondage chair... I don't even know where to start, it seems like a terrible combination of different elements... putting aside for one minute the fact that Melgaard has made a career out of overlooking the importance of substance and the ability (hard work, yikes) to translate it into his work and instead literally vomits into his art what he absorbs from the world like a barbarian, saying nothing other than parading a cause he obviously lacks the sensibility to grasp, what Dasha doesn't know, and this I don't blame her because that's what happens when social climbing and status starvation needs more credentials and decides to "acquire" validity through the world of arts: just because it's a chair, it doesn't mean you have to sit on it.

    Back to Native Americans, I definitely feel a major disconnect when people from Europe weigh on the topic, but then I feel that disconnect in most topics regarding discrimination, imperialism or exploitation... long-time issues. That said... I've never been to a Native American reservoir in the US or Canada but I've been to the ones in Mexico... and there's this thing with souvenirs that should warrant a topic of contradiction on its own and that's always made me question the focus on the use of symbolism, the overuse and constant accusation of "appropriation" and... pretty much an arrogance and contradiction I can't really come to terms with. At the end of the day, symbolism is merely a physical element for a ritual whose ultimate purpose is preservation and unity. It's not a green light to trash it, but they're certainly not connecting with the stars, you know...
     
    #12 MulletProof, Jan 25, 2014
    Last edited by moderator Aviar: Jan 25, 2014
  13. HeatherAnne

    HeatherAnne Well-Known Member

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    You don't see the problem with two white people recreating a scalping? Wow...
    Let me put it in another context for you, what if it was two white people recreating a slavery lynching?

    There's a way to tastefully depict historical tragedies in art and put them in a context that garners respect and sympathy from people, but when it's solely used to be controversial and shock in awe, like every editorial that's ever graced the pages of Purple Magazine, that's a completely different thing.
     
  14. SugarMe

    SugarMe Active Member

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    This is a terrible analogy not only because leprechauns are fictitious but because Native American women and the sexual assault crimes committed against them (that reach epidemic levels) are very real. Putting a white model in her underwear and a headdress is just ignorance.

    No. The connotation is only lost on those who are not oppressed.
     
  15. Mr-Dale

    Mr-Dale Unveil Yourself....

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    I realize leprechauns are fictitious, I was only posing it as an example of another cultural reference which the poster above me pointed out should all never be present on any runway.

    Then I'll be the first to admit that I am ignorant. I fail to see how that specific cultural symbol differs from the use of kimonos or what ever other cultural attire in fashion.
     
  16. anlabe32

    anlabe32 Well-Known Member

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    Yes! This was exactly the point I was trying to make. I don't know much about Native Americans, but the constant (very tiresome) discussions about them actually make me wonder why there's never discussions about other (religious) cultures.

    But hey, i'm European and I like I said, I don't know much about the subject. I just view it with my own unbiased eyes.
     
  17. TREVOFASHIONISTO

    TREVOFASHIONISTO Active Member

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    about Olivier, I am just glad he is embracing the other side of his ethnicity. I think its such BS to call out diversity when the casting for his show has a majority of pale faces and only recently did his show seem a little more diverse
     
  18. souleye

    souleye New Member

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    is there a cure for racism?

    I'm not so sure. when we talk about fashion and racism it's like fashion is an island insulated from society. it's like when people tell you the internet is bad. it's the same people you see in the street that go online. so fashion is a microcosm in a greater entity that is institutionally racist. racism is hard to define. if one group of people identified by skin color determine that they're superior to or are entitled to more privileges than other groups, it's borderline absurd. you're talking about martin luther king's speech. how about 2000 years of so-called civilization?
     
  19. YoninahAliza

    YoninahAliza New Member

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    It's interesting to see what people who are not American think of the use of cultural garb worn by Native Americans in fashion because often it is so different from what I've experienced in my life. I'm going to generalize here (sorry about this) but, so many Europeans seem blissfully unaware of the struggles of Native Americans, and in particular unaware of the way the appropriation of cultural signifiers (such as particular patterns and the use of war bonnets) has been affected by them. From what I can see the issues regarding First Nation people don't seem to be as well known outside of the US/Canada (but I could be very wrong about this... I'm not sure) so therefore when it comes up in topics like fashion, people aren't always aware of the issues.

    Personally, I find that you said the conversations about Native Americans and cultural appropriation is a 'constant (very tiresome) discussion' to be rather distasteful. Having conversations about this subject is so, so important. It may not seem like it is but the fact is that the appropriation of garb such particular patterns and the use of war bonnets typically foster incorrect ideas about Native Americans. Plus, the added fact that many of these cultural signifiers are used in a way that is highly sexualized and the fact that one in three Native American women have been raped or will experience attempted sexual assault in their life. The correlation between the sexualization of cultural items in fashion and the abuse of a particular group of women cannot be dismissed.

    Growing up I was exposed to issues regarding Native groups (where I grew up had a decent sized population and where I go to college does too) and so while I cannot claim to understand what the Native experience is like, I have always been very aware of the appropriation of Native garments in fashion. I suppose we are always have a 'heightened' awareness when the issue is close to our heart or something we've personally witnessed/experienced. So I do see how those who are not from within the United States/Canada (really, anywhere with a local indigenous population) might not "get" why it's wrong to use such garb in fashion. But exposure to such issues is always a good thing. And fashion can be a way to have this conversation through supporting Native designers, Native models, etc. There's definitely been some great conversations in the last few years too (on other threads on tfs and throughout the fashion world) but of course there is always more to talk about.
     
  20. prosperk

    prosperk New Member

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    The image doesn't seem to have much to do with scalping. The victor seems to be about to bury a tomahawk in the captive's skull, an activity not limited to any particular ethnicity. Scalping was actually introduced to the North American continent by white French and English colonists who paid their indigenous collaborators - or allies, depending on which accounts one prefers - for scalps proving the extermination of one more rival colonist. By the mid-1700s, the population explosion within New England was of serious concern to the French and to native peoples too, and French and native warriors who brought English scalps to French military authorities were rewarded for them. It was done to French settlers too, but as the French population was much smaller than its English (British) counterpart, the numbers of French craniums laid bare reflected this.

    But then, this is probably all a bit beyond Mr Zahm & Co. After all, we inhabit or travel in a world where a Vogue Chief Editor had to ask her Features Editor who Gabriel García Marquéz was and, upon being told, dismissed the proposed interview and feature by telling the meeting that if she didn't know who he was then her readers wouldn't either. But was her ignorance rooted in racism? Maybe, if you want to cite Euro-centrism as racism. Is the ignorance of history revealed in those Purple images rooted in the same kind of racism? Maybe. But there are plenty of instances of out-an-out racism in Fashion without straining to see it where it might not exist. Witness my experience at Condé Nast on landing a rarely-granted interview with the late Nina Simone. It was a difficult telephone conversation because she hated white people, or pretended to. Telling her that I was Irish and therefore almost black cut no ice. She had no idea, it seems, of the common aspects of West African and Celtic social history. Ah well…

    But she consented to be featured and that was a victory. She insisted that the journalist be "a person of colour, one of my people!". Did I know any such writers, she asked, challengingly. Well, I knew a couple of British journalists of Nigerian extraction but sensing that she might write me off as a smart arse if I put it that way, I just said yes. Then I went down the corridor to give the good news to the boss, who was suitably pleased and asked me when I was leaving. So I explained the conditions imposed by Doctor Simone and said I had it covered. Steel blue eyes transfixed me:

    "We don't mind having them in the magazine from time to time but we don't want them working here, do we?"

    And that was that. Nina Simone died soon afterwards. Truth be known, I would love to have interviewed her myself. I have quite a portfolio of sacred monsters. But she insisted that her interlocutor be black. Is this indicative of the nature of racism as a two-way street? Do blacks get a free pass because of slavery? Are we wrong to remind particularly strident black promoters of the racial divide that the West African slave trade was run by despotic locals? Does it negate our shameful part in the trade as consumers? You see, when you take a closer look at any question involving racism, you soon see that there are shades of grey between the black and the white poles. I wrote a screenplay once about the first US Army 'Colored' Regiment to land in France in 1918. I was given an introduction to a prominent African-American producer and director. The conversation went nowhere because he was so freaked out that a white Irishman had written it. Oh sure, he wanted to buy it from me, so that it could be rewritten by a suitably dark-skinned screenwriter. Who was the racist there? Or was he being a realist? Did he feel that nobody would finance a film about African-Americans written by a white man?

    Back on Planet Fashion, we were often told that it would be great to "have more ethnics" in the magazines but that copy sales figures plunged when there were black faces on the cover. Never mind that US Vogue's Oprah cover was reportedly the biggest-selling issue to date at that time. "Ah, but, that's America. Blacks are more integrated over there." would come the response. But the editor who refused to have a black writer interview and profile Nina Simone in the magazine really did have a problem with blacks. As a recovering racist myself, I was able to help him with this problem and he is on the mend these days.

    For me, it's all very well to have these discussions but they so often commence and end in accusation and recrimination. Until mankind realises the simple truth that communication and education, including self-education, is the only means of overcoming the innate savagery within us all, which is always ready to express itself through any pretext, skin colour being an easy one, then we will keep circling one another watchfully.
     
    #20 prosperk, Jan 27, 2014
    Last edited by moderator openCfor: Jan 27, 2014

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