NYFW and Cultural Appropriation

This New York Fashion Week, many of the most influential designers in the fashion industry debuted his Spring 2017 collection. Among these designers was American designer Marc Jacobs.

This season, the hair at the Marc Jacobs show has eclipsed talk of the clothes in his collection. Jacobs chose to have all of his models wear different colored fake dreadlocks. One of the biggest problems with this was that his cast was overwhelmingly white.

Kendall Jenner walks the runway for Marc Jacobs Spring 2016


Many people criticized Jacobs for this choice which led him to release a statement on the matter.

“[For those] who cry ‘cultural appropriation’ or whatever nonsense about any race or skin color wearing their hair in any particular style or manner — funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair,” Jacobs wrote. “I respect and am inspired by people and how they look. I don’t see color or race — I see people. I’m sorry to read that so many people are so narrow-minded … Love is the answer. Appreciation of all and inspiration from anywhere is a beautiful thing. Think about it.”

This obviously upset many people. Jacobs had not only appropriated the culture of black women, but had attacked black women for having straight hair.


After a further outcry, Marc Jacobs posted the following photo on Instagram.

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-8-59-41-pm…and I thank you for expressing your feelings. I apologize for the lack of sensitivity unintentionally expressed by my brevity. I wholeheartedly believe in freedom of speech and freedom to express oneself through art, clothes, words, hair, music…EVERYTHING. Of course I do “see” color but I DO NOT discriminate. THAT IS A FACT!

Even after all of this mess, it is clear that Jacobs still does not really understand what he has done wrong. He can claim he does not discriminate, but the fact is his cast was predominantly white.

The fashion industry has been stealing from oppressed groups for ages now, but in this social climate, it is no longer being ignored. I was happy to see so many relevant names in the fashion industry and popular culture speaking up against a fashion giant like Marc Jacobs. Hopefully, the reaction to Jacobs’s dreadlocks will make an impression on others in the industry and beyond.


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