Has fashion lost it's respect for race and culture?
Fashion has always been at the centre of media attention and social networks, and enjoys the privilege of being seen and heard everywhere - at all times. A privilege destined for a select few if we consider how much is written or asked today to become part of the cauldron of the news of the day.
Without rules and limits, fashion (but much more) whoever takes his place, dared to walk tall. I say dared, indeed. For some time, his safety in terms of "prima donna" has begun to falter. Behind the spasmodic need to dominate the scene, another kind of need has begun to be evident: that of being above everything and everyone, even the common sense of respect. Respect, a mindset from the Middle Ages, some would think. And no, because for someone who is still classified as medieval in thinking, respect is something fundamental and basic.
The straw that broke the camel's back and shook some minds was the controversy triggered by China against the Italian brand Dolce & Gabbana, accused of racism. The commercial shows a Chinese girl eating Italian dishes with typical Chinese chopsticks. What is offensive about all this? Nothing. But the verbal malice behind some of the narrator's questions to the girl is "patently" latent. This is offensive. Can we say that China has perhaps opened the doors for a legislative regulation aimed at protecting respect for people and culture, where fashion intends to build and expand its mediatic and economic power?
After China, other luxury brands were accused of racism. Moschino, Zara and Versace have all had similar accusations. The Italian high-end brand has been accused of using code words to indicate customers whose skin is black. Zara, one of the Inditex group brands, has also been accused of using, as in the case of the Italian brand Moschino, coded words against customers whose skin is black and also against people from Mexico; the so-called 'Latinx'. While Versace, the brand of Italian origin, sold less than a year ago to the American group Michael Kors, had a complaint from an employee who explains that he was fired after the managerial staff discovered that his skin was dark. In the focus of protests - Amazon has been accused of using children's voices with Alexa.
It seems of late that fashion brands are having a difficult time. Fashion often communicates a message (in this case - of dissent) that circulates in society and whose brands are the spokesperson for this message, often exacerbating the message itself to make it even more powerful and redundant with the result of having been heard in launching it, but many times with an effect contrary to that expected. And in fact, the message becomes latent, confused to trigger controversy.
Somehow it seems that we are trying to put a stop to the verbal language and the fashion communication of the brands, which are intent on expanding their market all over the world. Nowadays they also have to worry about not being offensive and disrespectful of the culture and legislation of each country.
On the other hand, when any brand decides to expand into a country it is because it considers it economically attractive, so it claims to be "respected" is the least we can do. But sometimes common sense is overshadowed by the thirst to commodify minds, forgetting that some, indeed more than one, is no longer left in the Middle Ages.
Alessandra Guerrieri studied Communication and Social Media and later specialised in Communication and Fashion Journalism. She has contributed articles to Vogue Italy where her creativity has been expressed through her fashion writing, as she holds a vast knowledge in fashion culture and history.