Originality isn’t something that exists anymore. We’ve all heard the saying that anything done now has been done in the past and is going to pop up again in then future. In an industry that’s been around since we started making clothing to cover ourselves, that saying should basically be the motto of the fashion world. Clothes, jewelry, make-up, and ideas have been exchanged and remade by countless other cultures around the world, and while there isn’t anything wrong with the sharing of these things, excluding the people and actual culture in the modern age is not okay.
There’s always been a thin line with cultural appropriation, and while showcasing other peoples and their clothing is definitely something that needs to be done to build up the global community there are always those who just don’t know where that line is even close to, we’re looking at you Kylie Jenner. While entire fashion lines boast about their inspirations only to make a 180 and white-wash an entire fashion show I.e Valentino’s 2016 “African-inspired” showcase of mostly white models with cornrows. The collection being described in Vogue as “primitive, tribal, spiritual yet regal” the last easily being seen as a backhanded compliment. It’s also been a noted event of just how white the industry is with cover after cover of the industry’s biggest magazines scarcely featuring non-white models.
Advertisers who assume consumers will only buy into images of white beauty are wrong,” says Dr. Ben Barry, Ryerson University.
It doesn’t stop there, natch, with many other fashion shows attempting to embody the spirit of other cultures only to come off as, at best tasteless, and as worst incredibly racist, with Elle Canada and DSquared2 launching clothes that seemed incredibly thoughtless in their presentation, based on African dashiki’s and northern native-American apparel. Not every venue of fashion decides to ignore red flags with the Met Gala standing above and beyond with it’s inclusion of designers and artists of the Chinese culture with last years’ theme of China: Through the Looking Glass. Rihanna took the show herself with a gorgeous yellow dress designed by Chinese couturier Guo Pei. The gala showcased costumes, porcelains, and art work that has inspired fashion designers around the globe.
The beauty and power of fashion is an unquestionable force in the modern age. Designers and the celebrities that wear their clothing are, whether they want to be or not, incredibly influential forces that can change the opinions of the masses for better or worse. What we are stuck asking ourselves is: when and where do we start to change?