It’s Almost 2019 and Luxury Fashion Brands are Still Exploiting Asian Culture

In the Fall/Winter 2016 fashion show of luxury fashion house Balenciaga, a familiar bag used in East and Southeast Asian countries was seen touted down the runway.

This bag seemed as if it was ripped straight off of the shopping bags of Bangkok, Thailand, costing 100 baht ($3.90) compared to the designer bags, which are worth about a thousand times more.

The defense for the apparent rip-off was that the materials of the Balenciaga bag were seemingly made from sturdy leather rather than the flimsy plastic of the Thai bag, according to a Thai official.

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The bag is also similar to the “palengke bag” used in the Philippines to pack groceries or carry heavy goods.

While that was back in 2016, 2018 has also seen its fair share of apparent cultural appropriation with high-end luxury brands.

In October, Vogue magazine was accused of appropriation for a photoshoot that depicted Kendall Jenner in an “afro.”

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Earlier in the year, another prominent fashion label, Gucci, sent its models down its fall 2018 runway in Milan with models that were wearing turbans, similar to the traditional Dastaar worn in the Sikh religion. People in the Sikh community were understandably upset, as wearing a turban has been a cause for violence against the wearer.

Not only do fashion brands have a responsibility to make sure that they are being culturally aware, but a brand is also only as exclusive as the people that wear their clothes. Celebrities also should be aware of the clothes that they are displaying to their audience.

Dior this year faced negativity for celebrating Mexican culture by featuring Jennifer Lawrence, a White actress.

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Many were not happy with Lawrence speaking about the culture and preferred someone more relatable to the message set by Dior of celebrating different cultures.

Fashion brands, celebrities and the magazines that display them have a responsibility to do research on the designs and products they produce. Defense for a creative license may be used in this case, but research and time sensitivity is also important for high fashion brands to take into account.

Featured Image via Twitter / @kdancetoj

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