Guess what the fashion industry doesn’t care about? The answer: Cultural sensitivity.
Which is why we can’t be surprised that Elle Canada thought it made sense to tweet that the newest fashion trend was dashikis. To prove their point, they showed shots of celebs like Rihanna and Beyoncé wearing them. It was a surprise to anyone who knows Black people — and especially anyone who knows West Africans— that this was being announced as a trend. Almost as surprising as if someone told a group of basketball players that sneakers were a good thing.
But the Elle Canadians were excited to get word out that this staple of clothing was all the rage — so that white people could run out and buy a few. Though the thought of countless trend-chasing blond tweens running around in dashikis would have been hilarious in a way not achieved since the Jan Brady cameo in I’m Gonna Get You Sucka, the Internet shut it down.
Once the Tweet went up, Black Twitter — as well as non-Black tweeters who just have sense — went on the attack. They used words and phrases like “white privilege” and “cultural appropriation” and “my culture is not a trend.”
All of these Tweets were correct, but none of them are going to change anything in the long run. In the short term, they led to Elle deleting its post. But tomorrow or the next day, there will be another white fashion editor who decides something is cool and fun and trendy just because they finally noticed it, even if people of color have been wearing it for decades.
Nothing is safeguarded against fashion pomposity — but fortunately, Twitter sees all. So it may not be sensitivity that keeps the fashion industry from these embarrassing, easily avoidable guffaws — it may be social media shaming. Here’s to hoping that the righteously (and rightfully) pissed off stay online.
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(Photo: Rihanna via Instagram)
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