The women A/W 2016 collection caused a little bit (that’s the least one can say) of controversy.
For two reasons: firstly, the use of a “ #Dsquaw” hashtag and secondly, the alleged “appropriation of Aboriginal culture”.
Now, from an ideological point of view, I have always been and always will be sympathetic to the cause of indigenous peoples. I do not consider myself political, but I have to admit that some of my all-time heroes include Subcomandante Marcos, Abdullah Öcalan “Apo”, Geronimo, Daniel O’Connell and the likes.
The hashtag, probably, was clumsy. Reason I am saying “probably” is that in Europe, the term “squaw” means either nothing (I questioned several people), or simply refers to a native American woman (I used it as a child when playing with my action men). I know that the Twins are from Canada and should know better, so that is why I accept “clumsy”; yet I am pretty convinced that they do not have the slightest form of cultural supremacist beliefs. Dean and Dan too belong to a minority that has been subject of discrimination, oppression and even mass murder. Gay humour is sometimes very silly, and sometimes hurts. Doesn’t excuse, but it helps explain.
In relation to the “theft” of tribal patterns and designs, ah Jaysus come on…
“Tonya Davidson, a sociology professor at Ryerson University, says that this is a classic example of cultural appropriation. It is problematic because industries that are a part of mainstream society steal and commodify aspects — ideas, images and names — of minority cultures without any permission. “This practice works to reduce living cultures into commoditized objects that are being sold and bought,” she says. “Powerful industries are capitalizing this practice to make money of misused ideas about Aboriginal cultures.” In fact, the excuse of celebrating Aboriginal culture is simply a way to justify ongoing theft.
Dsquared2’s glamorization of colonialism is a form of racism because it reproduces the colonial logic where Aboriginal cultures are just reduced to images that are set in the past and are decontextualized.”
If the sociology professor says so…
I will point out that:
a) Cultural borrowing is a two-way system. Various groups adopt traits of others and vice-versa. If a member of an indigenous minority presented a fashion show, or produced a collection of furniture inspired Edwardian England, the American Civil war or the Scottish Highlands, nobody would be talking of cultural appropriation. Not anymore than the “Sapeurs” of the Congo are accused of stealing from European heritage.
b) Nothing prevents members of first nations peoples from organising international fashion shows using these patterns and designs. I would just be too happy to see that happen. If they do already, unfortunately so far it has gone under the radar. If Dean and Dan had not done it, I would never have seen these wonders which play the role of a window on a native culture and foster the admiration for the tribes that are at their origin.
c) Fashion is about borrowing. Hardly anything is new anymore. Even the great revolutionaries of the fashion world borrowed from indigenous cultures. In the eyes of the prosecutors of Dsquared today, Yves Saint Laurent must be the greatest thief the world has ever known. Using already existing ingredients is partly what fashion is about. The way you jumble them together makes the soup of the day, so that it has the flavour of an African tribe this year, of an urban tribe the following year…How boring would it be otherwise. Discover if you can, but re-discover over and over again, for the new generations.
And check out these amazing looks below…Thanks to you all First nation peoples, and thanks to you Dean and Dan!