Curbing Cultural Appropriation In The Fashion Industry With Intellectual Property

Curbing Cultural Appropriation In The Fashion Industry With Intellectual Property

In the name of fashion, defaming our culture needs to be stopped

Fashion is a powerful way of expressing our identity, values and aspirations. It is also a social and cultural phenomenon that reflects and shapes the times, the moods and the identities of people. Fashion can inspire, connect and bring people together through traditional clothing from different cultures, but it can also appropriate culture without honoring it.

What is cultural appropriation?

Cultural appropriation is the act of taking or using elements of a culture that is not one's own, especially without showing respect or understanding for the original context and meaning of those elements. Cultural appropriation can be seen as a form of exploitation, domination or erasure of marginalized cultures by dominant cultures.

Some examples of cultural appropriation in fashion are:

- Wearing Native American headdresses as costumes or accessories, without acknowledging their sacred and ceremonial significance.

- Using African prints or patterns without crediting their origin or history, or reducing them to stereotypes.

- Adopting religious symbols or garments, such as bindis, turbans or hijabs, as fashion statements, without respecting their spiritual or cultural significance.

Why is cultural appropriation harmful?

Cultural appropriation is harmful because it:

- Disrespects the original culture and its people by trivializing or mocking their traditions, beliefs and struggles.

- Erases the diversity and complexity of cultures by reducing them to stereotypes or trends.

- Exploits the creativity and labor of marginalized cultures for profit, without giving them recognition or compensation.

- Reinforces power imbalances and inequalities between dominant and oppressed cultures.

How can we avoid cultural appropriation in fashion?

We can avoid cultural appropriation in fashion by:

- Educating ourselves about the history and meaning of different cultural elements before using them.

- Asking for permission and consent from the people who belong to the culture we want to borrow from.

- Giving credit and attribution to the source and inspiration of our fashion choices.

- Supporting and promoting the work of designers and artists from marginalized cultures.

- Being open to feedback and criticism from people who are affected by our fashion choices.

How to appreciate and celebrate different cultures in fashion

Fashion is a wonderful way of exploring and appreciating different cultures and their beauty. Fashion can also be a bridge for cross-cultural dialogue and exchange. Fashion can help us learn from each other and grow as global citizens.

However, appreciating and celebrating different cultures in fashion is not the same as appropriating them. Appreciating and celebrating different cultures in fashion means:

- Being curious and respectful of the cultures we want to learn from.

- Acknowledging the context and history of the cultural elements we want to use.

- Being aware of our own position and privilege in relation to the cultures we want to engage with.

- Being humble and willing to listen to the voices and perspectives of the people who belong to the cultures we want to honor.

- Being creative and original in our fashion choices, not copying or imitating others.

Some examples of appreciating and celebrating different cultures in fashion are:

- Wearing traditional clothing from different cultures on special occasions, such as weddings, festivals or ceremonies, with permission and guidance from the people who belong to those cultures.

- Using elements of different cultures as inspiration for our own designs or styles, while giving credit and recognition to the source and influence of our inspiration.

- Collaborating and partnering with designers and artists from different cultures, while respecting their vision and values.

- Supporting and empowering local and ethical fashion brands and initiatives that promote cultural diversity and sustainability.

- Learning and sharing stories and meanings behind different cultural elements that we use or admire in fashion.

Fashion is a powerful way of expressing ourselves, but also of connecting with others. Fashion can help us appreciate and celebrate the diversity and richness of cultures, not defame or appropriate them. Fashion can help us use our creativity and imagination for good, not for harm. We can appreciate and celebrate different cultures in fashion by being respectful, responsible and mindful of our choices.


Fashion is a powerful form of expression, but it also comes with responsibility. We need to be mindful of how our fashion choices affect other cultures and people. We need to respect and celebrate the diversity and richness of cultures, not defame or appropriate them. We need to use fashion as a tool for empowerment, not oppression. We need to stop defaming our culture in the name of fashion.


(2) Fashion Culture. What is Fashion Culture? -
(3) The ultimate Indian fashion statement? - BBC Culture.
(4) How Does Fashion Influences Culture? - Posh Garments Ltd..
(5) Influence of Culture on Global Fashion Consumerism - UK Essays.


How does fashion affect our culture?

As fashion has become an inseparable part of human society, it plays certain roles in society. It influences the society and also get influenced by the society, for example, a farmer wearing skin-tight jeans, it means, fashion has influenced the people living in village.

What does fashion say about culture?

The clothes we wear tell stories of our culture and our heritage – things that can't easily be shrugged on and taken off at will. Tradition is also passed down in the creation and construction of our clothes. The way things are made, the materials, and the process, are all embedded into our communities and cultures.

What is the issue of cultural appropriation in fashion?

'Appropriation' refers to making certain choices that may hurt people belonging to a certain race, ethnicity, community, etc. For instance, if you wear the traditional attire of another country simply to make a fashionable statement, it is appropriating that culture.

Which fashion designer is accused of cultural appropriation?

Mexico accused fashion designer Isabel Marant in 2020 of commercially exploiting several traditional Mexican indigenous designs in a collection. The designer was already accused of the same in 2015. Not much later, Marant apologized for the cultural appropriation of the patterns.

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