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Gucci’s turban ‘accessory’ is disgraceful

The major fashion brand missed an opportunity to improve representation, and instead opted for cultural appropriation

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Gucci have received a highly critical response on social media after their Autumn/Winter 2018 runway at Milan fashion week. The luxury Italian fashion brand sent a series of white models in turbans down the runway in an attempt to showcase them as fashion accessories.

In Sikh culture, the turban is a traditional, religious emblem that carries high importance within the community. However, many Sikhs have to deal with chastisement for this aspect of their appearance. Why is it fair for them to be torn down for expressing their identity, only for it then to end up on the runway?

In the current social climate in which Sikh people are discriminated, racially profiled, and abused for wearing a turbans, it was an irresponsible, and frankly offensive move from Gucci to have models wear them for the sake of fashion. It was only recently that a Sikh man was attacked outside Parliament. Someone had tried to rip his turban off of his head. It is cases like these which make it ever more important to normalise other people’s cultures, not merely steal aspects of it for the benefit of something like a fashion show.

Gucci’s actions are a typical case study of cultural appropriation: adopting an aspect of a minority’s culture, whether that be clothing or a hairstyle, without the consent of those people. This only reinforces the lack of diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry. Gucci, a hugely influential global brand, completely missed the mark and, importantly, the opportunity to hire actual Sikh models to show their turbans on the runway. The lack of representation combined with the disregard for the Sikh religion and culture in order to display a fashion collection, is not acceptable.

Religious and cultural dress is not a fashion accessory. It is not a costume for high fashion designers such as Gucci (who have such a profound impact in the fashion world) to use at their disposal, whilst turban wearing Sikh’s are falling victim to abuse.

  • Jill F

    People do wear turbans, and not only the Sikhs so I think it makes sense to model them. And if people are being persecuted for wearing turbans that’s all the more reason to model and normalize them.

    As for getting “permission” for wearing a garment or hairstyle- get permission from whom? Cultures are not organizations with certain people authorized to tell other people what they can wear. Cultures are fluid and overlapping. And because members of an ethnic group or religion choose to wear a certain garment or hairstyle doesn’t make it off limits to everyone else in the world.

    • Ellie Taylor

      The point is, is that Gucci as well as other high end fashion brands continue to show low representation of non-white models. So why should they take an aspect of someone’s culture or religion when they continue to show low levels of non-white representation in the industry?

      • Pamela Murphy

        Gucci used all black models only – for their AW 17 pre fall campaign…