Commonplace Cultural Appropriation

A big problem in the fashion industry is cultural appropriation. Where can we draw the line between borrowing fashion from different parts of the world and stealing cultural aspects without remorse?

Fashion is derived from the location it exists in. For example, what is considered fashionable in Asia is different from what is fashionable in Europe. It just goes to show how fashion is related to the beauty standard. Now fashion much like culture is traded, exchanged, and mixed. Looking at how fashion has evolved through ancient trading, the Silk Road, etc. can also be a testament to the evolution of culture. Honestly, cultural appropriation is a practice of time with Fashion and is quite inevitable.

The question regarding cultural appropriation is related to the double standard in the industry. I like to take the designer Jean Paul Gaultier as the perfect example. His absolutely gorgeous collections take inspiration from African, Indian, Chinese, and many other trends. He plays with the concept of Eastern Religions in his clothing which has always had recognition of a worldwide playing field.

JPG Hindu Top

Yes, it is great to see various cultures represented on such. grand scale, but JPG failed to officially give credit to his inspirations. In a sense, it’s like plagiarizing a culture. IT would be acceptable if he was able to give credit to the deserving regions.

The other question that Cultural Appropriation creates is regarding the success of native designers. Would an Indian brand receive the same recognition or applause for what Gaultier did? No. Would it receive the same platform? No. Clearly, cultural appropriation allows for the systematic oppression of the originations of fashion trends. Following on the same trend, the recognition of certain cultural fashion trend on western people can show another aspect of cultural appropriation.

The most prominent example of this is when we see box braids being more appreciated on white celebrities rather than black women and men. It is as though only an influential white figure can push different cultures’ trends. Another example of this is eastern fashion trends such as oriental gowns and Bindis. It is commonly viewed as unprofessional and backward when Asian women sport their traditional wear; however, when it is worn by celebrities in music videos and on red carpets, it is widely appreciated.

I think there is a lot to talk about when we entertain a conversation on Cultural Appropriation. Yes there are the ups of representation, but there are so many downs to the process. Hopefully in the future there will be basic guidelines to make this inevitable process more respectful of the primary cultures.

The Evolution of Style

The history of style shows fashion’s support of minorities and expression of one’s identity. It is quite amazing to see how fashion has developed with time especially when looking at it from a bird’s eye view. Taking in the beauty that is the history of fashion, however, can only be truly appreciated when we break the history up into smaller slices possibly even smaller than sets of generations.

The problem with looking at the past of fashion as a whole is that one will never be able to understand how a certain “movement” changed the lives of the people who started it. Fashion has a bad habit of normalizing in the sense that the industry often defines a new normal after the status quo has been defied. In the grand scheme, this might be a good thing but when we examine history it can be really difficult.

The way each slice of ten years reacts to big fashion changes during their time is different. For example, people born from 2000- 2009 interact and react to fashion’s gender fluid movement much different than those born from 1990-1999. This difference in reaction has been a constant for quite a while farther than when it was expected of girls to only wear skirts to school.

I think a lot of it has to do with how the identities of gender, sexuality, and age intersect when it comes to fashion. I think we can break life up into three categories: childhood, middle-age, and old-age. As children, we are taught certain “concepts” about gender and how it applies to our lives.

“Boys wear blue and Girls wear pink”

Children tend to feel the incessant need to push and enforce these concepts in their day to day lives. Often, this leads to them ridiculing their peers when someone tries to be different. When children see a fashion based movement, they are usually unable to comprehend it. As we grow older, most come to a phase of self-discovery and acceptance. This phase is also that of defiance where we push back against society’s expectations and pave the way to new ideas. This is the set of people that start movements in fashion such as the non-binary gender movement currently going on. Entering old-age constitutes the idea of tolerance and acceptance. Many people at this point in their lives should ask themselves how to adapt to the new movement’s ideas.

With all these different point of views, examining style can have a completely different angle when looking at different age demographics.

Does Fashion Enable People living with a Disability? Maybe?

Much like other industries, we see fashion expanding everyday. It grows in the scope of ideas, collections, and trends, but what about inclusivity? Fashion in the past and still to this day has tried its best to fit and cater to multiple body types– plus size, petite, etc. There is always still room to grow with Fashion’s idea of unity.

Recently, I was shopping for a cute pair of cargo pants as always struggling to find a size that will fit my tiny waist, and I took a minute to think about how Fashion affects people who live with disabilities. If it is hard for me to find clothing to cater to my body, how difficult is it for those the industry casually forgets.

Those living with disabilities already struggle to achieve their goals due to their disability. Their disability prevents them from the basics that many of us view as an expectation: finding work, clothing, relationships. It is a sad reality, and the fact that they further struggle to find clothing to fit their needs is preposterous. For many, clothing cultivates a good social, personal, and work dynamic.

For PLWD, they face problems finding clothing that remotely fits their situation. A lot of the time, this inability to find correct clothing can affect them in the workplace. Lacking access to proper apparel leads to separation from the group in a workplace, and going to alter certain clothing to fit your needs can be quite expensive.

Personally, I see these gaps in inclusivity as a big opportunity for innovation in the fashion industry. Creating clothing that can adapt to various types of disabilities will allow for the satisfaction for consumers who are willing to pay good money to find suitable clothing. There are a few companies out there actively trying to create clothing that suits PLWD.

The sector of “adaptive design” as it is called in Fashion has been growing, but I think there is still a lot to be tapped into. Brands such as Buck and Buck, Tommy Adaptive, and Target’s adaptive line all show the progress that this sector of the industry has made. You can find some more here. I think what really needs to be focused on is creating more outlets for personal style for those who are disabled. This sort of outlet can be healthy for self-image and allow more engagement (which will lead to innovation) in the industry.

I had never really taken the time to actually think about how Fashion still has bounds to grow with inclusivity not only racial and sexuality based but also still physically.

Sources

Kerri McBee-Black

Washington Post Article

Do We Live for Repurposed Jewelry?

I am a sucker for jewelry. I love, and I mean LOVE LOVE bracelets, necklaces, and especially rings. I day dream about my future Juste Un Clou ring from Cartier and constantly think about piercing my ears and buying Chanel huggy earrings. But the biggest turn off for me, is the price for designer jewelry! I can get the same thing custom done in India for a quarter of the price (maybe in real gold too). Though price doesn’t stop people from making jewelry investments, I was hoping to find a way to get fun designer jewelry for much less.


My favorite fashion pal is a sucker for all things vintage, and it was with her help I learned about small companies that create vintage designer jewelry. By reusing buttons, pins, and other items from vintage designer clothing, these brands make jewelry! Cute pendants, bracelets, earrings, and other gorgeous items that would cost you multiple hundreds dollars from the fashion hou ses themselves at the tip of your fingers. I was shocked, and it was a good kind of shock when I opened the link to oldsoulvintagejewelry.com that she sent me.

I was in jewelry heaven; the classic and sexy look of Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, and YSL jewelry all for much less. As I got to shopping, I saw so many different pieces that I love and noticed that half the site was sold out. IF you liked something, pick it up because the jewelry sold like hot cakes. But then the usual thoughts of buying 2nd-hand crossed my mind. Is it authentic? How many people are worn these items before they are repurposed? Is it safe?


Yes! All of their charms are 100% authentic as they specify in the lengthy description of their items. The one thing I especially love about these repurposed pieces is that they are one of a kind; you’ll never find another person wearing the same thing which can be a problem with classic pieces of designer jewelry (especially if you go to a private boarding school).
The downfalls I see for these items is how fast they sell out. If you like it, you buy it or else someone else is definitely going to pick it up. These sites are paradise for impulse buyers but not for thoughtful shoppers. Prices are definitely another thing to consider; though it is MUCH cheaper than new designer jewelry, these pieces are second hand and not 100% affiliated with a fashion house.


All in All, I LOVE IT. Catch me wearing more repurposed pendants in the future!

Religion, Fashion, and even Gender

The concepts of Religion, Fashion, and Gender are all explicitly related. We see society use concepts of Religion to push certain modes of dress. Society’s expectations from us to behave in a certain manner is commonly explained and defied in the world of fashion. But where are these expectations derived from?

Let’s take a look at Religion. The concept of God generalized across most Religions has a sense of masculinity. We see God use He/Him/His pronouns and God is commonly referred to as the father of the world. And of course, God is a woman or even genderless in a multitude of Genders. Regardless, whether God is a Man or Woman or Neither, it is important to see recognize how religion pushes women to have a sense of purity and chastity.

Most of the time, the concept of purity is pushed through how women dress. Society deems it “proper” to dress conservatively for woman all around the world. All religions seem to push the oppressive idea that women should never tempt that women should be pure. Religions commonly test the essence of a woman where if she deems herself as anything other than pure she brings shame to herself and her family. It is absurd that society puts women into two categorize “sluts” and “good girls” and judges these categories by the clothes they wear. We even see this in brides where white signifies a virginal purity.

Religion can also be a fashion statement in itself. It has been weaved into the themes for the Met Gala, Designer Collections, and more. The Met Gala’s celestial bodies theme allowed so many designers to push the envelope on religious outfits. With Galliano making Rihanna into the Pope and other designers following suit, we all saw Fashion take a religious angle at this event. Vivienne Westwood has a religious angle to her clothing with her Bas Charm featuring a prominent cross element. Jean Paul Gaultier is also famous for using religion as inspiration. His spring summer 2007 collection was an homage to Catholicism. He had collections in 1990 exhibiting Hindu accessories and Goddesses on his clothing. Clearly, Fashion draws inspiration from various religions at times.

Queer Signaling in Fashion

The world of fashion is so extensive; a lot of the times it blurs and blends with other concepts, ideals, and issues. One of these many angles of fashion is that of Gender and Sexuality. How do we see gender norms being broken in fashion? How do these gender norms relate to sexual orientation? How is queerness implied through fashion?

The LGBTQ+ community is so diverse and complex in its essence. There are so many niches, identities, and more embedded into the community that makes the sMost of the queer community hides themselves by merging in with “straight” culture or hiding in the metaphorical closet. Even those that are “out” even choose to distance themselves from the community as sexuality is not an outwardly recognizable identity. However, the community as a whole adapts to certain markers to communicate with one another. These items serve as non verbal acknowledgments of sexual orientation and some have even become so common that heterosexual culture recognizes them as well.

There are so many facets to the concept of queer signaling through fashion that many of us even in the community get confused. Some of the most common staples include but are not limited to the left Gay earring, the lesbian flannel, asexual black ring, and the handkerchief code. These signals in fashion goes even further to the extent that queer micro-labels identify their own staple labels. The lesbian community is known to have smaller staples such as silver and turquoise rings that go beyond butch and femme labelings. Honestly, this goes to show how fashion creates unity within the queer community.

It is harmful to generalize the queer community as “fashion-conscious” as such actions tend to trivialize the depth of the community. There are quite a few of these stereotypes regarding fashion in the community that muddle the importance of queer signaling. Ideas that coastal queers are more fashionable than those in the midwest and pushing the idea that all gay men are into fashion can cause the community to stray away from signaling in a show of divergence from the norm. In trying to breakdown these harmful stereotypes, the community can also distance itself from fashion based signaling which is quite essential.

It is consequently important to recognize the importance of fashion in the community as fashion creates bonding on a tribal level in the gay community.

Sources

Fashion and Clothing: Gay Identities

Queer Fashion and Style

Queer Semiotics in Dress

Fashion: A Game of Perception

Whenever you enter the mall looking for your next pair of shoes or when you go to your favorite website to do some online shopping, you become a consumer just like everyone else. All of us are consumers of the Fashion Industry, and by effect, all of us are influenced by the industry itself.

In any consumer based industry, big companies have to analyze the psyche of their ideal consumer. Most fashion brands build their own image through implementing themes and creating a staple consumer. Obviously, as consumers in this market, we all associate certain words and ideas with brands. When we think Gucci we think bright, eccentric, eclectic whereas when we speak of Chanel we hear classic, everlasting, chic. These underlying descriptors are the brand’s image.

But doesn’t a brand’s image influence how fashion alters our identity? The clothes we wear, the brands we gravitate towards, our own personal sense of style, all define a portion of our identity. The way we see ourselves is often guided by material items of clothing. Materialism promotes the fashion industry by slowing higher-end brands to hold themselves in high-esteem. I know that I have saved up day by day to go buy a “designer” item simply to associate with a certain social class of people. A simple designer item correlates to higher social class or even an elevated sense of style. The feelings that these fashion brands engender can hurt the way we see ourselves.

The fashion industry tends to promote a certain body type and skin color. By idealizing fair skin and skinny “hour glass” frames, the fashion industry creates body dysmorphia in many of its consumers. The industry brainwashes us to think that this unrealistic body type is ideal, to think that wearing certain brands makes us “elite”.

The reality is that this game of perception promotes other issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. However, finding the balance of perception and positive consumer interaction is the only way to keep fashion healthy. Is this balance even attainable?

Consumer Perception on Brands by Different Aspects

Are Gay Men the Face of Fashion?

Christian Louboutin, Tom Ford, Manolo Blahnik, should I go on? These big names in fashion are all gay men, and through no fault of their own, they have helped trademarked fashion as a “gay” industry of sorts. We commonly hear these gay men who are captivated by the world of fashion. The thing is that these men are labelled with greater success in the industry than many of the hardworking women.

But while this might be great queer representation, what does this trademark say about the world of Fashion?

The world of fashion is quite “feminized” in the media; hence, it is no surprise that the industry is mostly comprised of women whether this be designers or design students. And yes, while it is true that there are many powerful women in the world of fashion such as Anna Wintour, Rihanna, Stella McCartney, and more, we still see Queer men in many more positions of power in Fashion. Most creative directors of big fashion houses are queer men or even men in general. We even see these women in power giving importance to queer male youth over female youth such as “Anna Wintour being accused on only supporting gay men”(NYT).

Does the patriarchy give these men an upper-hand despite sexuality based discrimination?

Well, in Allison Stokes’ “The Glass Runway”, we touch upon this concept of a metaphorical Glass Escalator. This “escalator” gives men a boost in “women’s work” allowing them to get to the top much faster than a woman taking the “stairs”. On top of that, men are given the benefit of a “glass runway” in workplaces as well where they are pushed into the spotlight over their female counterparts. Essentially, it symbolises the systematic sexism developed by the patriarchy that we live in. However, we can’t simply take the “glass escalator” at face value without evaluating the intersectionality of identities. How does the glass escalator fare against Black men? Queer men? Queer men of color?

The reality is that intersectionalities put small cracks, fractures even, into the glass escalator and runway. These concepts are powered by themes of masculinity, race, and homophobia which are systemically embedded into every workplace. Since positions of power are correlated with masculinity, men have the advantage of the glass escalator; however, the system gives this advantage not exclusively but prevalently to white men. Black, Brown and Asian men tend to be prevented from growing in workplaces due to racism. Identifying on the queer spectrum can lead to similar homophobia and sexuality based discrimination. These examples of prejudice reduce the the effects of the glass runway and escalator.

How can we see the Glass Runway being applied in the Fashion Industry?

Ironically, the Fashion proves to be a counterexample, in the sense that the system of the glass runway and escalator embraces and supports gay men here. Though their “masculinity” and male identity provides as a step stool, it is dangerous to say that the system benefits gay men without acknowledging that they continue to face sexuality based discrimination. Obviously, many of these workplaces are queer friendly, but that doesn’t mean that they are free of discrimination. The success of many of these gay men are dependent on a judgement of their “masculinity”. Only those who are deemed masculine enough by their workplace superiors and counterparts seem to grow professionally.

Clearly, sexism has prevailed in pushing women down in the world of fashion, and while it is great to see more queer representation in Fashion over any industry, there needs to be a way to break down and destroy the inherent sexism in fashion.

Golden Goose: A Messy Surprise?

As many of my friends can tell you, I have never been a big fan of the Golden Goose sneakers. I tend to make fun of one gal in particular for her addiction to the luxury sneaker

Snakeskin Golden Goose Superstars

brand. But why buy a pair of dirty looking shoes, when I could take a pair and wear them out until they have the “distressed” look that GGDB markets? At first glance, the sneakers look pretty beat up, but after a while, you realize that they have so many different styles, patterns, and even textures that make their shoes so much more eclectic than the average pair of designer sneakers. I guess by spending some time on their website I could give my friends some credit for their addictions.
I still wasn’t sold on whether these shoes were worth the 600$ price-tag until I walked into the new Golden Goose Flagship in Chicago. The sales associate made my experience of buying shoes so great with the extra attention they gave me, and I learned so much more about the fashion house from my

Golden Goose Store Chicago

30 minute stop and shop in their boutique. I was really in desperate need of a pair of white high-tops, and I decided to try on a pair of their Classic Francy. My small feet (as usual) made the Men’s Francy unavailable in my size, and the SA decided to fetch me a pair of the same shoe but in Women’s sizes. While she did this, I found out from her that Golden Goose as a label preaches gender-fluidity in fashion– I LOVE IT! But back to the shoes. The sneakers hit all 3 things that I look for in shoes on the dot.

Comfort

Quality

Style


Like many Italian leather shoes, Golden Goose are super comfortable and breathable! They are even made from top of the line materials whether that be leather, snakeskin, or denim!
The best part about the shoes is the ability to customize them. After deciding on purchasing the white Francy, I wanted to make the shoes more fun per-se. I found out that GGDB makes it own laces to add some extra pizzazz to their shoes! To be honest, the experience of making the shoes my own and choosing the laces made me feel like a kid in a candy store. GGDB blew my mind in the style category.
But it can’t be all praise for Golden Goose, there are definitely two downfalls for the brand: the price and the sizing. When compared to its competitors like Philippe Modele, GGDB is definitely more expensive. You can get the same distressed look without the iconic star for much less. Even the laces are 70$! I bought these adorable denim laces that I can’t get over, but you can get a similar denim look for 10$ at an off-brand store. Personally, I like to think of all my shoes as a “self-investment”/confidence booster, so I tend to justify the exorbitant prices. But at the end of the day, the price is just NOT right.
Golden Goose’s sizing is a little off too. It is definitely one of those shoes that you go in-store to buy. I ended up buying a 37 even though I usually wear a 37.5/38 in sneakers. Just something to keep in mind.
Overall, these shoes are great; definitely worth all the buzz around them. I give them Samarth Approval 😉

Wait… Designer Socks are A Thing?!?!

My shoe fetish is something that everyone tends to call me out on. I buy overpriced sneakers and indulge in world of leather boots, but I never paid attention to what goes underneath the shoes — socks!

Gucci Pink Crystal Socks

I was gifted GUCCI socks for Christmas this year from my best friend, and I was amazed to learn that one of the most ICONIC fashion houses made socks. And then, another close friend gifted me expensive socks as well. I didn’t know what was happening; I had never planned on cuffing my pants, or well I did, but not for the reason to show off my socks. It was like the universe was telling me to start investing in these adorable accessories.
Apparently, a lot of my favorite fashion houses made socks. Even with a variety of price ranges. Gucci, Prada, Burberry, Dior, Jacquemus, Off-White, McQueen, Balmain, and Fendi are just a few of the major labels that have entered the sock market.
But how practical are these chausettes? Are they just another item for the super rich who can splurge hundreds on a pair of socks? OR can any of us put some money aside to use these socks to up our fashion game?
I think yes: these socks just might have some style value. A cute pair of designer socks just multiplies how adorable you look when pulled over a pair of leggings; the Gucci, Fendi, or Dior monogram peeking out from under a pair of jeans adds another layer of detail to your outfit. Sheer socks made by some of these designers can make your appeal more sexy. In a sense, if you have the money to spend, why NOT put some cash into designer socks?
Now I get it, these socks might be an investment for some people, and honestly, if you are going to save up for something designer, these are definitely not worth it. You can get equally as hot socks from other brands for a fraction of the price. But on the other hand, if you want to spice up your outfit with a small designer item– socks just might be the move. Why not pair Gucci socks with Converse instead of pairing cheap socks with Gucci Sneakers? Afterall, the first option is cheaper 😉