Marc Jacobs NYFW 2017: Cultural Appreciation?

Cultural appropriation seems to have become a norm in the fashion industry. Well-known fashion designers have been known to use pieces of other cultures in their designs and fashion shows without acknowledging the origins of their creations. Unfortunately, the masterminds behind these shows have been giving credit to everyone but the people who deserve it. Fashion blogs and reviewers have contributed to this rising issue by using rhetoric that not only renames the styles, but introduces them as new creations and trends. This problem has particularly been on the rise for the black community. Fashion designers are using styles of African origins and styles that have been worn by the black community for ages and placing them on predominately white models, while the fashion industry refers to them as “new” or “trendy.” Among these fashion designers is none other than Marc Jacobs. First, it was the “twisted mini buns” on predominantly white models, then it was the colorful faux dreadlocks on more white models. The “twisted mini buns,” which I’m sure we all know are really called bantu knots by now, were credited to Marc Jacobs as a new, trendy style for the warm weather, while the dreadlocks were credited to “rave culture, club culture, acid house, Boy George, and Marilyn.”

Well, it looks like Marc Jacobs got tired of being criticized for cultural appropriation because this year things were a little different. Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2017 fashion collection, “Respect,” featured a line of looks that included baggy pants, gold chains, track suits, and puffer jackets. Unlike his previous shows, there was much more diversity among the models. Marc Jacobs cited the documentary, “Hip-Hop Evolution,” and his New York City upbringing, which exposed him to “the influence of hip-hop on other music as well as art and style.” The models were also seen sporting oversized hats, which Marc Jacobs’ press notes said were “inspired by the haberdashery and elegance of Andre 3000.”

That’s all very touching Marc Jacobs; however, fashion designers can still get away with taking styles the black community has been talked down upon for years and calling them high fashion. Yet, when brands like Baby Phat and Rocawear were introduced to the fashion industry by black designers they were marginalized and viewed as ghetto.

Kimora Lee Simmons expressed her problem with the fashion industry’s use of “urban” styles in an interview with “Fader” last year. When asked how she felt about brands emulating a culture that wasn’t fully accepted in the fashion industry, she said, “I see it in the stores, ads, and the blogs. Maybe they call it American fashion but at the time it was ‘ghetto fabulous,’ it was ‘urban’, it was ‘hip-hop culture,’ it was “streetwear. It was all of those things that they used to pigeonhole us when really we just wanted to be a part of the bigger conversation and sit at the bigger table. I guess when it works for them, they use it and are inspired by it but it boxes you in.”

Hmm, sounds a lot like what Marc Jacobs is doing. When faced with criticism, fashion designers like Marc Jacobs often say they are appreciating the culture, but where was all this appreciation before? What do you think? Is Marc Jacobs truly appreciative of hip-hop culture or did he get tired of all the cultural appropriation criticism?