Sunday, July 3, 2022




The fashion industry has made more of an effort to include diversity within its realm, whether it be the models, music, and trends. Inclusion is very important when displaying mainstream talent due to the significant impact it plays around the world. Fashion is an art that can be used to bring awareness and unity, so what happens when designers apply cultural trends into their collections without properly acknowledging their background? Cultural appropriation is a raised topic that has been swept under the rug with time being the broom and new fashion trends being the rug. Although most inspiration in the fashion design field is derived from history, which is repetitive, what will happen when another designer who is not of African descent decides to use the African culture as a muse again?

Proper representation showcasing culture awareness and the acknowledgment of it is what is crucial in the acceptance from its originators. While borrowing a culture can be an act of love, it can also be an act of hatred or oppression. Trends in general are showcased to be copied, but when coming from a sensitive background it is easy for those very trends to be deemed disrespectful, i.e. appropriate. People of African descent, i.e. Black people have endured many hardships over the centuries in the hands of Europeans. Slavery and segregation are some of the main reasons why ownership is viewed as taboo when it comes to Black people, so owning the culture is what gives the topic ‘Cultural Appropriation’ and the need to address it much more importance.

There are wide varieties of approaches that come down to one determining factor; culture appropriation is a problem within the industry and culture sensitivity is something to consider when a designer who is not tied to the culture decides to mimic these trends. The lack of effort designers put into their work to address these trends is the source of the issue. Miuccia Prada stated in an article titled ‘Speaking Freely’ by Luisa Zarani, “How can you know the details of each single culture so well when there can be 100 different cultures in every country?”. Statements such as these bring a new approach to this sensitive topic, which is that the appropriators simply do not know the importance and/or don’t have a required method to undergo before releasing their work.

There is a thin line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation in the fashion industry. The thin line between the two being awareness and the ability to try and relate to the culture. With the issue being that the African American community faces scrutiny for the trends that were passed down within the culture for years, to be carelessly copied and praised by the public toward the appropriators as “new” trends is why cultural appropriation is a topic that should be deeply explored (this can play a part in the mental health of African Americans as well). The input of the individuals being appropriated matter, and this article is just a start to a conversation that should have been taken seriously for years.