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The topic of cultural appropriation in fashion has become an intensely confusing topic, especially in the fashion domain. You may ask, how are cultural appropriation and fashion interrelated?

Well, fashion like art draws inspiration from a lot of indigenous backgrounds. Fashion across the world is not just about the beauty of it but it comes with the stories that people want to share. If you pay close attention to African prints, each piece has its own story to tell. The design and even the styling of it come with a lot of inspiration from the culture of those who put the piece together. On the other hand, cultural appropriation is the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society. Example adoption of braids and kinky afro by other dominant races. Well about that we will scrutinize it in the next blog.


Photo Credit WWD

In the past years, we have observed that a lot of luxury brands have had some kind of backlash over collections that are significant in relation to or like they prefer to say inspired by certain groups of societies. mind you, there is a difference between cultural appreciating and cultural appropriation. It would surprise you how tiny the difference is. with cultural appreciation, you give credit to the group of people whose culture you are about to put to use and do your research carefully to avoid any form of disrespect and misinformation on whatever you are picking up from them. Being well informed gives you the confidence to either style your artist or model without any troubles with the group of people whose identity is represented in that culture.

I have had a lot of my friends abroad ask about some African culture in relation to my Ghanaian self, like our kente clothes, our headpieces and how they could style their models and themselves with it. It does not only make me feel like they are ready to learn and they are passionate about the culture but it also tells me how seriously they think about the culture.


Photo Credit Highland Support Project

Final Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation In Fashion

You can appreciate the culture, yes but then make sure you are doing it right and acknowledging the origin of the specific cultural group because it is their identity and they would protect it in any way even if it means taking serious legal action on whoever is in charge. Cultural appropriation is in line with racism and I urge everyone in the fashion industry from hairstylists, clothes stylists, and even models and artists to educate themselves on matters concerning cultural appropriation.

Cover Image Credit Jigar Maru

By Ewura Osei

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