Hello friends, I wanted to talk about something a wee bit controversial... I've seen a lot on social media and the blogosphere in general lately, about cultural appropriation. As some of you know, my brand is named after the happiest little yellow dress that I ever designed! You can see it down here: vvv
I designed this dress waaaaaayyyy back in 2004. It is inspired by what I consider to be the prettiest most feminine thing in fashion, the cheongsam. I had never seen one with a full skirt before, so I created my own version out of my faaaavourite yellow striped cotton.
My Love of the Cheongsam
Growing up in a tiny town, my only escape from the humdrum existence of small town living, was through books and classic movies, such as The South Pacific and Flower Drum Song. Although I was too young at the time to understand what these movies were all about, I was fascinated by the beauty of the fashions, which I had never been exposed to before.
I fully understand how wrong it is to mock an entire group of people by diminishing their culture to a costume, but fashion is not a costume. Fashion, (and I'm talking real fashion, not fast fashion), is something that hours of time, energy, money, sweat (and sometimes even blood and tears) are poured into the creation of, so the end product can be worn with great pride.
Of course I am always open to respectful discussion on these topics, but I have seen some very positive independent companies, as well as their customers being verbally attacked to the point of physical threats by people who disagree with their mixing of cultural elements into their collections.
Since those small town days of escapism, I have gotten the chance to travel the world, and have discovered first hand, that in reality, this is all fashion is and has ever been. A gigantic mix of cultural elements from here, and cultural elements from there. From the days of the silk road, to the present Rockabilly comeback in Japan. A collar is a collar, be it the cheongsam, Peter Pan, button down, edwardian high neck etc. and fabric is fabric, be it tartan, batik, lace, silk, denim etc. Everything has come from one culture or another, and will be recycled, shared and re-used for centuries to come.
I have seen many of these companies who've been under attack, publicly respond with a canned apology, and promise to do better... but in the cases I have seen, there really is nothing to apologize for. To dictate who can wear what based on skin colour, is completely ridiculous and wrong.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. Any abusive comments will not be removed to prove a point ;) Thanks for reading!