| By Rachel Monique Maskell
Appropriation or Evolution
How are you this gorgeous day?
This week has been pretty full - working on a fashion exhibition for my visual merchandising class and getting ready for a market on Saturday. With some help I built 3 free standing walls for the exhibition...building isn’t too different from sewing, it all requires a lot of measuring and attention to detail.
While I’ve been building and producing I have been listening to Wardrobe Crisis by Clare Press. One of the topics that comes up frequently in her work is cultural appropriation. But, it isn’t just on her podcast, it’s buzzing around the fashion industry quite prominently. And I’m sure there are some who would love to swat it away.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic too. It’s obvious when it’s done poorly, thank you Kim, but there are a lot of nuances that can go unnoticed unless you know the backstory and understand the history. As consumers this is hard to do. We may see a brand making efforts on the runway or in their ad campaigns but then hear about all the ways they screwed up. It’s confusing sometimes for me as a consumer so it must be incredibly challenging for the industry.
What I do know is that we are evolving as consumers and because of that the industry has to catch up and evolve with us. Just like any relationship the way these sensitive topics are brought up and introduced matters. When your partner isn’t listening to your concerns you know it. Or when the response is met with little regard to execution, frustration ensues. Our relationship with brands is not much different. We want to be heard and met with integrity and understanding.
Which means it often comes down to intention.
Is that brand utilizing that model or choosing that design to check off a box? Or are they giving credit where it’s due and recognizing that the population is diverse and we are not a trend.
You? What do you think about this topic? Any best or worst examples that stand out to you? Would love to hear if you have a moment.