Are Fashion Brands Mocking Sensitive Racial Topics?

Published on June 24, 2020

We all know fashion is mainly a trend on how we present ourselves every day but has it become a mocking trend against diversity? Since the events that have been happening all over the world and with the Black Lives Matter movement sparked in recent months, many have been joining this movement in support. One of those supporters have been different fashion industries like 

  • Adidas
  • Spank
  • Savage X Fenty
  • Jordan 
  • Cos Stores

But of course, many were quick to come back with receipts of those who claim they support black lives matter, but show differently in their actions. In a recent article by PBS on the subject, transgender model Munroe Bergdorf spoke her truth when the famous makeup brand L’Oréal posted to their Instagram about the movement.

L’Oréal is not the only brand coming into heat with touchy subjects like this and trust me when I say that other brands have faced the same heat.

In February of last year Burberry came under fire when one of their models walked down the runway sporting a hoodie with a noose around her neck. Yes, a noose around the neck. This garment didn’t just kind of look like one. It was a full-on noose around this model’s neck. The company later apologized for the insensitive move, but many argued that it was too late—it could and should have been avoided in the first place. The model who wore the hoodie was deeply upset about the garment and wrote on an Instagram that she was “ashamed to have been a part of the show.” 

But it doesn’t seem like most fashion brands are catching on to this memo of “hey this might be racist and offensive to some let’s no do this.” Along with Burberry Gucci and Prada also received some backlash over releasing products that have a striking resemblance to blackface. Gucci had a black turtle neck with its mouth cut out and outlined in red to resemble lips while Prada had a character named Otto, a black creature with huge lips. Even Dolls Kill, a popular alternative fashion retailer, came under fire in recent years for selling a shirt that said “Goth is White.”

Here is the link to the full Facebook post

Oh wait, there’s more Dolce and Gabbana earned some heat in 2016 when they came out with a pair of sandals and named them “slave sandals.” I mean honestly, it just seems like this is a joke to them sometimes.

This isn’t just happening with clothing but models as well. Models of color are not getting equal opportunities and pay while their other counterparts are getting global recognition year after year. For a black model to succeed in the way that someone like Kendall Jenner has, they need to have a unique enough look to be memorable in an industry that consistently chooses white mediocrity over diverse casting.

Famous Model Naomi Campbell talks in an article about how some of her ads don’t run in certain countries because of the color of her skin. Just let that sink in for a moment. That somewhere in the world, your beauty and grace aren’t displayed because of your skin color.

The question I want to ask designers is whether they research their designs to make sure they’re not being culturally insensitive, or whether they consider that at all. The things that these fashion brands are getting trouble for aren’t topics that we haven’t heard before. It’s been heard and seen worldwide for years, so why would they think it’s permissible as a fashion trend? 

The fashion industry needs the wake-up and get their act together, because this isn’t funny anymore, nor is it socially acceptable to commit faux pas after faux pas with little accountability.  

Jori Ayers is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily based in Tampa, Florida. She was formerly with the editorial team at Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.

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