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    May 16, 2019

    Gucci Is Being Criticized For Cultural Appropriation Yet Again, And I Am Just Tired

    For some reason, luxury brands are still picking from other cultures without proper recognition, research, or respect. Gucci is the latest one.

    Gucci is, once again, being dragged on social media after its "Indy Full Turban," which was previously accused of being cultural appropriation, was being sold by Nordstrom for a WHOPPING $800.

    shop.nordstrom.com

    On the Nordstrom website, the turban is described as a "gorgeously crafted turban ... ready to turn heads while keeping you in comfort as well as trademark style."

    You may recognize the bright blue turban, which originally appeared in the February 2018 Gucci fashion show on a white model and received backlash for its cultural dismissal of Sikh people.

    Filippo Monteforte / AFP / Getty Images

    People pointed out the turban's similarity to traditional headwear of the Sikh community. On top of feeling like the luxury brand was ripping off a sacred aspect of a religious group, many were confused by Gucci's choice to present the turban on a white model, instead of finding a brown model, which would have felt more appropriate.

    There is a fine line between cultural appropriation and appreciation," Shireen Jiwan, founder and chief investigator of Sleuth Brand Consulting, a brand management firm that specializes in the intersection of fashion and technology, told WWD. "To try to maintain artificial lines between groups or protect one group’s rights over another to address or celebrate images and ideas of gender, race, ethnicity, and the like is a losing battle in a day and age wherein these divisions matter less and less. The lines themselves are dissolving completely.”

    According to the Sikh Coalition, the turban is worn in the Sikh community "by men and women alike. The turban was historically worn by royalty in South Asia, and the Gurus adopted this practice as a way of asserting the sovereignty and equality of all people. For a Sikh, wearing a turban asserts a public commitment to maintaining the values and ethics of the tradition, including service, compassion, and honesty."

    Hulton Archive / Getty Images, Felice Beato / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

    To learn more about the history of the turban, check out this CNN article.

    During the initial backlash, brands like Diet Prada evaluated how an egregious error like this could (and can) be avoided.

    Filippo Monteforte / AFP / Getty Images

    Diet Prada, an Instagram account that exposes copycat designs in fashion, wrote:

    "1: Hire Sikh models. Italy is home to the second-largest population in Europe. It would have been a beautiful statement to see Sikhs proudly representing their religion on one of fashion’s most major runways.

    2: Do a fashion turban instead. Marc [Jacobs] and Miuccia [Prada] have shown gorgeous interpretations of ’40s/’70s glamour that don’t read as sacred religious headwear.

    3: Just don’t do it. While we’re not against looking to other cultures for inspiration, please remember the threat, assault, and persecution that these people face worldwide and the right they have to have to practice their beliefs in public."

    I AGREE.

    This Twitter user wondered if Gucci had even done historical research on what a turban means to Sikhs.

    This is beyond aggravating. Did someone at @gucci even bother to figure out what a dastaar (turban) means to Sikhs? Did it cross your minds to consider the history behind our identity? My people are discriminated against, even killed, for wearing a turban.

    People pointed out that the brand was appropriating something that is discriminated against when worn by its originators, yet profited off of in the mass market.

    @AvanJogia @gucci @HIMANSHU My blood is boiling right now. As a Sikh, I see this as a huge sign of disrespect and disregard towards Sikhism. It isn’t hard to educate yourself on the significance of a turban. This isn’t a mere fashion accessory! Thank you Avan for speaking out on this

    The Sikh Coalition also posted on Twitter, pointing out that the turban is viewed as sacred by "millions of Sikhs," and that "those wearing the turban just for fashion" really don't get it.

    The turban is not just an accessory to monetize; it's a religious article of faith that millions of Sikhs view as sacred. Many find this cultural appropriation inappropriate, since those wearing the turban just for fashion will not appreciate its deep religious significance.

    Sikh activist Simran Jeet Singh pointed out that "[Sikhs are] attacked and killed for how [they] look, and now corporations get to profit off that same look."

    Wow. @Gucci and @Nordstrom are selling turbans as fashion items. We're attacked and killed for how we look, and now corporations get to profit off that same look? Feels wrong to me. Your thoughts? https://t.co/Em9UELbkTB

    Another Twitter user even pointed out that "Sikhs were boiled alive and cut limb by limb for tying it. Post 9/11 — bullied and murdered. Sikhi is accessible, not luxurious. #CulturalAppropriation at the expense of #SikhGenocide."

    And this Twitter user pointed out how flagrantly insulting the suggestion of using the headwear for a "night on the town" is.

    @gucci, who made the decision to capitalize on something so significant to Sikhs? And your team went as far as telling people how to accessorize for a "night on the town". You don't use a turban to add "pop of blue" in your outfit.

    Unfortunately, this is not the first time Gucci has dropped the ball. Just earlier this year, the Italian brand came under fire after images of a balaclava knit top that looked like blackface appeared online.

    Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images; Screenshot

    On the left is American singer and actor Al Jolson in blackface, circa 1930. On the right, a model wears the creation as part of the Gucci women's fall/winter 2018–19 collection.

    Gucci isn't the only brand to have received backlash for appropriation controversies — H&M, Urban Outfitters, Prada, Victoria's Secret, and countless others have issued "apologies" and "statements" on their mess-ups, assuring that diversity and inclusion are important to fashion and to them as brands.

    In response to the balaclava backlash, Gucci issued a statement: "Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper,” the company said. “We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make.”

    Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper. We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make. Full statement below.

    As of the time of this article, Gucci has not issued a statement regarding the turban, and many of us are left to wonder how much longer brands and luxury houses will profit off of marginalized people and cultures. What do you guys think?

    Filippo Monteforte / AFP / Getty Images

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