Cultural Appropriation: Gucci Faces Criticism During Milan Fashion Week

At the Fall/ Winter 2018 Fashion Week in Milan, the clothing brand Gucci was at the center of attention. Not for their intricate designs or creative and fashion-forward ideas, but for their blatant use of cultural appropriation. During Milan fashion week, models were seen on the runway at Gucci's show carrying replicas of their own severed heads as well as carrying baby dragons and lizards. These models were also strutting down the runway wearing bindis, traditional Sikh turbans, and embellished headscarves.  Alessandro Michele, the Creative Director of Gucci stated that he Drew inspiration for this line from Donna Haraway's 1984 essay, "A Cyborg Manifesto," 

After photographs from the show were posted online, actor and activist Avan Jogia made a post on twitter regarding Gucci and their appropriation of so many cultures at their show," Yo... @gucci ... I mess with you guys... but this isn't a good look for you... could you not find a brown model?" The actor began to post a string of messages voicing his frustration over the lack of representation and appropriation shown on the runway and soon enough others began to reply expressing their frustration as well. Many users began to tweet the experiences they had in school and or work where they were mocked for wearing clothing from their culture.  Although Gucci is making headlines for their appropriation of so many cultures during the show at Milan fashion week, this is not the first time the clothing brand has been in the spotlight for appropriating someone's culture. In spring 2017, Gucci made headlines for appropriating the designs of the African-American designer Daniel Day also known as Dapper Dan. 

For years in the 80s and 90s, Dapper Dan created and manufactured streetwear and high fashion clothing designs. He put together and created his own version of the logos from different clothing brands on his own, authentic designs. Unfortunately, these said brands, including Gucci, weren't too happy about their logos appearing on Dapper Dan's clothing and eventually Dapper Dan had to shut down his clothing store. Marc Jacobs is also a clothing brand that has faced backlash for cultural appropriation when the clothing brand sent white models down their runway with colorful dreads for their Spring 2017 line. It was very upsetting to many African Americans due to so many years of discrimination throughout our lives; whether it be from the hairstyles we wear or our choices in clothing. So, when Gucci showcased their designs for their 2018 line, it was very ironic to see the pieces shown looked exactly like a large number of designs by Dapper Dan

With all of the backlash Gucci has been receiving for their cultural appropriation I began to think about how for so many years people of color have been ridiculed by society and by people that aren't of color. So many cultures have been mocked and abused for their traditions, meanwhile the dominant culture has been appropriating and benefiting from our traditions. So, what should brands do to make sure they are not appropriating anyone's culture? I think the first step is having a more diverse team behind the scenes as well as on the runway. Next, brands should make sure they don't feed into stereotypes. Finally, if a brand does appropriate a culture, they should admit their fault. At least people will know you realized what you did and you're making an effort to educate yourself and fix your mistake.