The Fashion Industry Needs To Stop Monetizing Other Cultures
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Gucci’s Commodification Of Cultural Clothing Is A Problem The Fashion Industry Needs To Address

Brands like Gucci and Zara are only commodifying the culture of others rather than making any attempt to celebrate and respect them.

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Gucci’s Commodification Of Cultural Clothing Is A Problem The Fashion Industry Needs To Address

Recently, Gucci faced backlash for selling Sikh turbans as hats for $790. The brand had already come under fire when the turbans were featured in Gucci's Fall 2018 show, especially due to Gucci's use of white models to wear the turbans on the runway. It seems that the previous backlash has not discouraged Gucci from continuing on to sell the turbans for a high price.

Members of the Sikh community were quick to express outrage at the monetization of the turbans, pointing out the religious significance of the Sikh turban. The reduction of the turban to a mere accessory for fashion is offensive enough on its own, but selling them at such a high price only further commodifies an item that is considered sacred to many and would normally not cost nearly as much in the Sikh community.

This incident with Gucci, however, is far from being the only instance where a cultural item has been monetized in the fashion industry. Many have also questioned Zara's new sandals, which bear a close resemblance to waraji, woven straw sandals that were once popular among common people in Japan. The main source of confusion among members of the Japanese community was the price of the sandals, which are being sold at 7,990 yen ($72) while waraji are usually only 200-300 yen (about $2-$3).

Waraji do not appear to have the same spiritual significance as the Sikh turban, but both Gucci's and Zara's attempts to sell these items for much higher prices are all-too-common examples of cultural appropriation. Even if the item does not have sacred or religious value, it is still something that belongs to another culture and should not be monetized in such a manner. Drawing inspiration from other cultures is not harmful on its own if done respectfully, but simply borrowing cultural items and selling them as luxury items at a higher price range is far from being respectful. In these instances, these items are passed off "better" than the original by a brand that does not come from the culture it is borrowing from. Zara should not be given more credit than the people of Japan who used to wear waraji. In the case of Gucci, the turban should not have been touched at all.

The monetization of other cultures is, unfortunately, far too common, especially in the fashion industry. Brands like Gucci and Zara are only commodifying the culture of others rather than making any attempt to celebrate and respect them. Hiking up the prices of items belonging to another culture is a glaringly obvious act of cultural appropriation and a trend that needs to stop.

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