Update: While it’s been more than a year since Gucci first came under fire for its Fall 2018 show, people are talking about it once again. It seems like Nordstrom had decided to sell Gucci’s $790 Indy Turban, and the internet – myself included – is not having it. Since the backlash started a couple of days ago, the retailer has put out a statement on Twitter saying, “We have decided to stop carrying this product and have removed it from the site. It was never our intent to disrespect this religious and cultural symbol. We sincerely apologize to anyone who may have been offended by this.”
Original Post From February 22, 2018: Everyone has been buzzing about Gucci’s Fall 2018 runway show. Alessandro Michele had his models carry dragons, snakes, and even a head down the surgical-operating-room-inspired runway. Initially, I had only seen a couple of photos from the show, but when I finally got around to looking at the entire collection later that night, I was at a loss for words. The designer actually had a group of white models walk down the runway in turbans. Being a proud Indian person in the fashion industry, I couldn’t sit here and not say anything.
For those of you who don’t know, the turban is a major part of the Sikh religion and a symbol of a person’s faith and spirituality. It’s flat out disrespectful for Gucci – or any brand, for that matter – to exploit this by using one as a fashion statement. While I’m all for cultures being celebrated, the brand should have at the very least acknowledged the fact that this is a major part of a religion and provided some reasoning for incorporating the piece on the runway.
I understand Alessandro’s designs this season were supposed to represent different ethnicities, cultures, and social classes, but out of the 90 men’s and women’s looks he sent down the runway, couldn’t he have picked at least ONE Indian model to wear the turban? One actor, Avan Jogia, called out the brand on Twitter, saying, “Yo.. Gucci … I mess with you guys… but this isn’t a good look for you… could you not find a brown model?”
Like Avan, I’m not going to lie and say I’m not a fan of the brand’s past collections. As I’m writing this, I have my Gucci purse sitting right here on my desk, but I’m also not going to ignore the fact that this is a topic that needs to be discussed. This isn’t the first time a major fashion house has come under fire for cultural appropriation. Marc Jacobs raised some eyebrows during his Spring 2018 show when models like Bella Hadid and Kaia Gerber walked the show wearing headwraps.
How many more times do we have to call out major fashion forces for such insensitivity? Being one of the biggest brands of the moment, Gucci should understand the power it has as a giant company. There is a fine line between drawing inspiration from a culture and cultural appropriation.