I have prepared a selection of cases when renown brands are, what I call are :
- very lazy
- acting with unethical behavior
- do not give credits and neither help the targeted community from the copied design
Recently, I got revolted against Max Mara, a middle starting luxury fashion brand which just copied the beautiful patterns from the Oma community living in Northern Laos, as well as in northwestern Vietnam and southern China. This community has a great know-know for their traditional clothing featuring indigo dye with red embroidery.
Pictures taken from the Buzzfeed article
and the sleeves details…
Taking a design, a pattern, a food item, something that represents a cultural aspect without giving special credit to the people who are from minorities, tribes and indigenous people or just belong to this culture, is called « cultural appropriation ».
Looking at the specific definition: « Cultural appropriation is the act of adopting elements of an outside, often minority culture, including knowledge, practices, and symbols, without understanding or respecting the original culture and context. »
Sometimes, you can wonder, are we talking about an homage or a theft?
It would be considered an homage if you are directly collaborating with the tribe, the targeted group, giving them credit and supporting them in an economical-way too. I do consider a theft once it doesn’t follow what I mentioned earlier.
Cultural appropriation has been recently also not considered just in fashion but also in the food industry. Lately, Marks & Spencer launched a Byriani wrap which actually do not follow the right recipe (see article link).
In one of the latest fashion show of Gucci, the brand made a very direct and straightforward approach with their models wearing turbans as per the Sikhs culture. What was the aim of the brand here?
In the former case of Nike, with the imitation of the colorful patterns of the indigenous community in Panama, called the « Mola ». See pictures below
One good news, the brand apologized and didn’t release the shoes. See the article link.