Monday, February 25, 2008

reimagining the coloreds

If you know me then you probably know that I really enjoy fashion, not in the sense of "oh I look so good" but in watching the industry's trends, consumption patterns and news and such (also sometimes I look good ;). I'm not as on top of it as I'd like to be, but I keep up with the generally informed, and sometimes I stay ahead of the game, as I was with one of the season's newest trends- 'ethnic-inspired' prints and silhouettes.
So why am I mentioning this, and why didn't I mention it before? I was trying to not be nit-picky-because you know that's something I tend to do- and just be quiet about it. Let's face it- fashion is one of the most superficial, frivolous industries in existence, and part of why I like it is that it's straight up with that, and has no qualms about not saving lives on a daily basis (although sometimes unique ways to help others are found). But this is where that had to stop, for me.
I'm sure I'm not the only person of color who cringes when the word "ethnic" is used in design- a two-syllable shortcut for piling all the nameless cultures east of the pacific into one amorphous blob. "Chunky bangles," "bold geometric patterns," and "rich colors" are a few of the descriptors used for this, and designers and editors are eating the shizz up. And I know it probably isn't something to really get myself worked up about, but I can't help but be annoyed when designers rip off styles of dress and pattern from people and places that they rarely make an effort to actually see or understand, not to mention the fact that these aesthetics were rarely recognized as universally beautiful before white designers "adapted" them for their own collections. What's more annoying? The fact that the runways filling up with these dresses, accessories and, yes much to our dismay, headdresses, are overwhelmingly filled with lily-white models. Of course it'd be problematic to have only Black/Asian models in only these fashions, but you'd think that the one industry that to this day remains primarily segregated would try a we are the world approach during this particularly colorful season.
I guess you can't give people too much credit, though.

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