Regarding Camille's comment in the last entry about this article posted at The FADER . Zachary's Smile is a vintage boutique that also produces clothing for its own label. This season the boutique is mad for African prints, particularly those of the Ivory Coast:
...the new printed dresses are made from fabric exclusively from the Ivory Coast. There is an endless choice of prints—from hot and tropical florals to a particularly fetching heart print—in a limited fabric run with something to tickle pretty much any girl's fancy.
That kind of cultural appropriation annoys me but then, my eye starts to twitch anytime I see a non-Asian woman dressed in a Qipao with chopsticks in her hair at some party.
There is just something about traditional clothing that is sacred to me. I'm not bothered by small elements, like a scarf or jewelry woven into an outfit. I myself have worn clothing with kente cloth even though, according to my National Geographic DNA test, my ancestors probably didn't come from Ghana. What gets me are the head to toe ensembles, and we've all seen it. You know the type, it starts off innocently enough with someone buying a conical straw hat to wear in the garden and then BAM! All of a sudden she is shopping exclusively at Uwajimaya and her wardrobe is full of mandarin collar jackets that she bought at Chico's. And black folks are not immune from this behavior, Lawrence Fishburne and Wesley Snipes I am looking at you.
But I digress. All I really want to say is that I had to roll my eyes when I read this. First of all, the assertion that because of X designer, tradition clothing is fashionable, is offensive. I hate the idea of someone buying up a bunch a fabric from the Ivory Coast to make cute little size 4 dress (only to be dumped onto a clearance table when it's pronounce "out") for the Gossip Girl set. And yeah, I'm also annoyed because really, boho black women in the US have been incorporating traditional textiles and clothing into their wardrobes forever but things like this it only seems to be noticed when white women adopt it. Cornrows? Bo Derek invented that beach ready hairstyle in the 80s. Velvet tracksuits? That's the terrain of Juicy Couture. Nameplate necklaces?* Carrie" from SATC. Remember when Carrie referred to it as her "ghetto" gold? Also no one had big ass lips until the day the heavens parted and Angelina Jolie was born.
But I'm a hyprocrit too. If the retailer was Black I probably be filling my online shopping cart with those frocks.
*as the child of a black Panamanian woman, I was issued one at birth.
ETA: Read another blogger's take on it here.