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.