Fashion Social

Fashion Sensitivity Training: Racism

By: Ruth Jordan

So as I scrolled though my Instagram feed yesterday on my way to work, I saw one of the most disturbing things in fashion rear is ugly head again, RACIST IMAGERY! Who was the subject, none other than another fashion heavy weight, Prada. So apparently Prada developed an “enhanced” monkey mascot, which full red lips features bare a striking resemblance to a painful history. We’re talking blackface being completely overlooked. 

Dude! So no one in your production team said, “Hey, this reminds me of something.”, through-out the whole process? The resemblance to the blackface character “Black Sambo” is astounding guys! The deep rooted pain behind the character Black Sambo, also referenced to as the mammy, the picaninny, or the coon, cuts so deep for many. This image was use to oppress people of color as they were always thought of as the lesser, and constantly referenced to as apes. Though Prada may be an European brand, and the character to resonate in America’s history, this is no excuse.  For this to move through so many hands, be an oversight, and make it all the way to the consumerism stage shame on you. 

Just last month Dolce & Gabbana had no other choice but to cancel their show in Shanghai amidst allegations of racism. The marketing campaign Dolce & Gabbana prepared prior to the show, left all of China in an outcry. The imagery of an Asian model attempting to eat Italian food with chopsticks, created backlash in the community. Though the designers claimed they were hacked shortly after; the commentary from Stefano Gabbana on Instagram, regarding the backlash and the imagery which followed, was perceived as racist.  

Take a look for yourself, the marketing, the commentary, and the defense:

Dolce & Gabbana Shanghai Ad

Like what is going on! We as a collective are too far past consciousness for big names and those in high places, to not be aware of the signals they are putting out. All your doing is creating bad press and wasting resources that the fashion industry is already battling to revert. Great that you both pulled out of the action you started, but neither event should of transpired in the first place. Stop falling asleep at the wheel and do better! 

Props to @diet_prada for always keeping us fashionistas in the loop via Instagram. 

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RuthOliviaJ

RuthOliviaJ is a senior in the Business & Technology of Fashion BA program at New York City College of Technology. Her goal is to continue her career in the fashion world by becoming an e-commerce developer, as well as being a fashion travel blogger.

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