The Luxury Minstrel Show: Why I Can’t Pour My Capital Into Noninclusive Fashion Brands

"As a Black person that is an avid handbag collector, the way these brands have continuously acted is deplorable."

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| February 26 2019,

6:25 pm

Bold, black and brilliantly, Andre Leon Tally, former American editor-at-large of Vogue magazine, once famously quipped: "Wearing clothes should be a personal narrative of emotion. I always respond to fashion in an emotional way."

These words have strolled through my mind constantly for the last few weeks since finding out about the plethora of disrespect major luxury fashion houses have done to people of color. Valentino, Prada, Gucci and now Burberry have communicated items that have stereotyped and exploited the pain of communities of color.

While there have been many instances that have screamed out at me as a Black body navigating America, none have done so more than Gucci and Burberry. Gucci created a sweater/shirt that was worn by a white model that reflected an image of blackface. While Burberry, on the other hand, created an accessory to be worn around the neck that resembled and fashioned a noose. Both of these circumstances have put many Black people into a very complex situation when trying to understand what to do with their capital both economically and socially.

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There have been many Black people like T.I. that have publicly denounced the brands and others that have overlooked the situation as a minor mistake or miscalculation in branding. While both sides of the aisle have validity, a larger conversation needs to be had about these clothing empires.

As a Black person that is an avid handbag collector, the way these brands have continuously acted is deplorable. They have not been sensitive to the histories and realities of people of color when drafting and framing their clothing items. So, no it is not OK for them just to provide hollow apologies. More needs to be done to make sure these situations do not happen again in the future. Brands like Valentino, Prada, Gucci and Burberry need to have more people of color at the table when discussing concepts.

Many brands are quick to shout that they are diverse and want to do better, but their actions often do not line up. Brands need to be held accountable for the mistakes they make. They need to have enough respect for their customers to actually change and repent for the things they do. Gucci and Burberry need to have more creative designers that are people of color.

Until more work is done to make fashion a more inclusive space, these social misses and PR disasters will continue. Making fashion exclusive is problematic and only hurts the brands. A change needs to come or fashion will only have emotions riddled with pain, hate and resent in the future. 

Simply put, it is not hard to have people of color at the table. Yes, it will take work, but if the brands care about their customers they will put in the extra effort.

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