The internet is still buzzing about the debate on “whether its moral to shop H&M or not” after their recent incident of insensitive culturalism. In the beginning of January 2018,there was a photograph released on the Europe’s H&M website that projected a little African-American boy wearing a green hoodie that said “The Coolest Monkey in the Jungle”. Yes, clearly this is something that would piss off anyone of color for several reasons;
1) Who in their right mind would allow something like this and think it wouldn’t be recognized?
2) What was the mother really thinking when she allowed her son to have photos taken in that hoodie? As the mother has clearly stated that we are the ones starting the conflict as far as linking the two main factors together.But does she have a point?
Fashion has seen its wide share of culturalism that umbrellas into different categories. Lets not forget that back in the 90’s, Tommy Hilfiger was “disappointed that the urban demographic took us away from our roots. He also stated that if he had it to repeat history, he would “stick to my heritage and not chase trends.” Even in the brands we rap and sing about or listen to in our songs, little do people know that these designers actually not keen for being displayed off the backs of our people of color. Here are a few examples of a few designers who share this same perspective.
Michael Kors- “I’m tired of pretending I like blacks…Just for the sake of a sale I have to deal with women like Nicki Minaj? I’d rather not. After all my fans made me money, It’s only fair I be honest and let them know how I really feel… I cant stomach the thought of my Michael Kors purses being stuffed with synthetic hair, weave or what ever else my fans are into.”
Marc Jacobs-“all who cry ‘cultural appropriation’ or whatever nonsense about any race of skin color wearing their hair in a particular style or manner – funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair”
Ralph Lauren-Who dressed up old photographs of deceased legendary Native Americans in their new collection for their 2014 Holiday Collection
Adidas-Not only was the founder of Adidas a well known Neo-Nazi, the brand collaborated with Jeremy Scott to design a sneaker that resembles shackles along the ankles
This list can go on, but is the message sincerely clear? Coming from the perspective of a woman of color who she too has seen both sides (consumer and producer) of the fashion industry, it’s safe to say that NO! We shouldn’t be too angry about this H&M story. Yes,it’s wrong and unfair to see or witness, but until we stop shopping in stores or purchasing brands that have been representing racism and cultural appropriation in the name of “flossing”, we cannot just stop shopping in one store. As a group of passionate leaders and trend setters(which by the way, EVERYONE should strive to be), let’s support labels and brands that come from people of color such as Martine Rose, B Michael, Narciso Rodriguez, Oscar De La Renta, Stella Nolasco, etc. We have the power to determine what we represent and Put on our backs. As a whole, we need to stop picking and choosing which stories are ok to go overboard with and trend online when we are still rocking Timberlands like the tree had no significance to slavery or manifest destiny.
But you don’t have to take my word for it, look it up for yourselves.