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Between Cultural Appropriation And Cultural Appreciation In The Fashion Industry

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Should the use of cultural codes and garments within the Western fashion industry be regarded as a legitimate source of inspiration or a blunt theft of cultural richness for the commercial use? Should culture be legally protected? Should Western designer limit their inspiration sources to the West?


Style is an outlet for inventive articulation and an impression of individual and social character. Fashion designers progressively utilize cultural codes and garments as inspiration for their designs. Past media studies took a gander at social assignment and discovered its place in style through conventional news sources, for example, TV and magazines.

This examination utilized a two dimensional investigation of internet based life impressions and looked into articles. Discoveries show in general that the tone of tweets accentuating social allotment was negative, with many featuring famous people, design and discourse on the idea. Paper articles on the point were commonly negative, underlining style originators and culture.

This paper aims to assess whether or not the incorporation of different cultures within fashion is in fact cultural appropriation and should ultimately be protected by law. The paper aims to uncover the link between culture and identity within the context of fashion and social media, and point to the effects of brand’s misjudgements. Ultimately, the aim is to understand if cultural appropriation there is, if it has clear effect on brand’s financial revenue, and if, so if brands should reassess their scope of conduct when it comes to design.


In looking into the topic, it is important to comprehend a few aspects of social appropriation. Per Ziff and Rao (1997, p. 35), social appropriation alludes ‘to the taking of licen.sed innovation, social expression, or curios’ and applying it to a random culture. Design has regularly proven a method for self-expression and a huge part of social personality.

For instance, Antony (2010) analyzed the significance of the bindi in Hindu culture, which has rcently turned out to be in vogue in prominent style culture. What is important in status and marriage in conventional Indian culture has turned out to be trendy among a youthful and non-Indian populace (Antony, 2010).

Celebrities, models, prevalent standard film stars, or unscripted television characters, have come into the spotlight for a few cases that delivered inquiries of allotment of culture. On the other side of the issue, Green and Kaiser express that these superstars utilize the issue to attract regard for themselves ‘and the items they would like to sell’ (2017, p. 146).

Another aspect of culural appropriation as characterized by Rogers is that the training ‘is engaged with the digestion and abuse of minimized and colonized societies and in the survival of subjected societies and their protection from predominant societies’ (2006, p. 474).

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Social personalities emerge through social practice, fantasies and ceremonies. For some, individuals, style speaks to convention. Design may likewise demonstrate riches, class status and occupation. Style and apparel capacity to strengthen social belief systems and social personality (Antony, 2010). Things being what they are, if apparel is noteworthy to a specific culture’s idenity, where is its place in prevalent design and patterns? Design is regularly observed as shallow, which incenses individuals worried about keeping up customs and regarding legacy (Thompson and Haykto, 1997). Green and Kaiser (2017) expressed that ‘apportionment has been a pinion in the design machine insofar as individuals have occupied with exchange and conveyed diversely,’ yet ‘it has as of late progressed toward becoming foregrounded in popular culture and broad communications’ (p. 145).


Past examinations demonstrate how various types of social orders express culture in various ways—through sustenance, exercises, music, all are characteristic of culture, as show in Roger (2006’s) investigation of social antiques and Antony’s (2010) contemplate on Hindu convention and marriage. Style has been an enormous piece of articulation of culture. This could be in the pieces of clothing themselves, the production of garments, or embellishments that convey a social noteworthiness (Antony, 2010). Carriere includes that culture as an idea may be ‘a summed up term for the different standards and qualities inside a given society’ (2013; p. 272).

Matthes in 2016 stated that social appointment was regularly a ‘distortion, abuse, a burglary of the narratives, styles, and material legacy of individuals who have been truly commanded and remain socially underestimated’ (p. 343). A case of this would be the utilization of specific frill critical to one culture and decreased to a negligible design adornment in another .A case of this phenomenon could be the utilization of the conventional Native American hats as a type of cap or the utilization of dream catchers as tattoos. Social assignment as an idea comes down to the utilization of the social curios without understanding its social centrality. Parisi includes that a case of this would be the manner by which ‘overwhelming society appropriates, to a great extent through broad communications ‘covers’ of African-American work’ (1991, p. 127). A few investigations found that social antiques fill in as social property.Coombe contends that culture is property and ‘social property is a fundamental component of individuals’ personalities’ (1993, p. 264). Culture is explicit to the advancement of personality and frequently the significance is lost in interpretation when adjusted to another culture.Similarly, Green and Kaiser (2017) said ‘the two makers and shoppers of design have since quite a while ago communicated an interest with distinction, ‘fascinating,’ vagueness, and vulnerability through style-style dress’ (p. 145). Coombe likewise said ‘innovation’ is at fault for assignment since it ‘appropriates otherness, comprises non-Western expressions in its own mage… denying specific chronicles, neighborhood settings, and indigenous implications’ (1993, p.256).


With the advancement of new media stages and social cooperation, its effect on individuals and their correspondence consistently evolving. Basic race and culture hypotheses have examined this wonder as it advances even moreover with the development of gathering correspondence. The hypothesis likewise has a huge influence in the correspondence among individual and culture in this investigation, as it delivered basic talk of social allocation ideas via web-based networking media. Basic hypothesis, at its base, is the ‘scrutinize of innovation and the improvements and foundations related with present day society’ (Elliot and Calhoun, 2003, pg. 1) In this investigation, it is particularly significant in view of its ‘evaluate of craftsmanship and culture, specifically the buyer culture, promoting, the media and different types of pop culture’ (Elliot and Calhoun, 2003, pg.1). So also, Kellner (2003) said there would new research in the territories as society persistently grown new advances and types of correspondence.

Culture and communication are tightly intertwined because “one takes ‘culture’ as the artifacts…the way in which people live their lives, the context of human behavior…it is intimately bound up withcommunication” (pg. 2). This theory creates a framework that applies to the development of society and new technologies. Anguiano and Castaneda (2014) described critical race theory as essential for “examining how race and ethnicity operate within the context of communication practices and experiences” (pg. 108). CRT has looked at how the study of race “bring forward important questions” that drive the research in culture and race studies. It is important to acknowledge how social media has developed in its creation of easy communication for users and their outreach. Twitter, at the time of this study, has more than 68 million followers and continues to have one of the fastest developing platforms (Fiergman, 2017).

A significant method to see how social allocation exists is by perceiving how it spreads. As observed in past investigations, the media assumes an enormous job in propagating generalizations, sexual orientation jobs and social affectability (or absence of). Portrayals of different races, societies and ways of life is significant in separating the social obstructions that exist. Barbour (2015) found in his investigation of the ‘When Captain American was an Indian’ comic that the utilization of symbols for the symbolism depicted played perilously cliché, with the end goal that the being ‘Indian’ was ‘transmitted by means of key and conspicuous symbols’ and that ‘the symbols bear little precision and separate from authenticity’ (p. 270).

Taking symbols and pictures from a culture is regularly observed as approaches to benefit off of these individual parts of different societies. Maeve Eberhardt and Kara Freeman (2015) found that when it came to taking parts of culture, it was normal to discover larger part races ‘co-selecting’ other social structures and ‘then getting a charge out of more benefit than those whose inventive powers at first delivered them’ (p. 306)

Within the media industry, presentation to online networking and direct access to review and collaborating with one another and good examples has a compelling influence of finding a spot in the public arena. Croucher (2011) found that the web would likewise assume a significant job in the social improvement process. As to, Croucher found that the web additionally served ‘guard their gathering personality’ (2011, p. 262). Correspondingly, a few investigations find that the Internet, just as other media, presented individuals to pictures of culture, striking superstars and good examples. For kids, as Boden (2006) discovered, good examples and ‘VIPs are social creations that epitomize social sorts’ (p. 290). Presentation to these pictures shape what we accept and how to connect. The Internet, TV, print media, all are wellsprings of ‘data for kids about the job of design and the utilization of picture’ (Boden, 2006, p. 289).

Eberhardt et. al (2015) likewise noticed that these good examples and famous people ‘are effectively developing in these settings a persona that isn’t themselves’ (p. 304). In their investigation of hip-jump symbol Iggy Azalea, Eberhardt et al. discovered that the white rapper ‘speaks to an outrageous and risky occasion of… the appointment of dark social structures by whites’ (2015, p. 309). Azalea additionally created her ‘open persona around what is alluring and wanted of African-American female bodies in the standard without pondering… the battles of the lived encounters of African-American ladies’ (Eberhardt et al., 2015, p. 320). Additionally, Vejlgaard said that ‘for centuries,women in India and Indian settlers… have utilized henna to beautify their hands’ and an a portrayal of culture, however after a model lifted it up, it moved toward becoming promoted in the US and removed from the first gathering of individuals it was made by (p. 31). Cultural identiy isn’t frequently made for benefit yet rather holds significance. That is lost in interpretation when it is appropriated by outsiders of that said culture.


  1. Amed, I., Berg, A., Kappelmark, S., Hedrich, S., Andersson, J., Drageset, M., & Young, R. (2017). The State of Fashion – 2018, 1-45
  2. Anguiano, C., & Castaneda, M. (2014). Forging a Path: Past and Present Scope of Critical Race Theory and Latina/o Critical Race Theory in Communication Studies. Review of Communication, 14(2), 107-124.
  3. Barbour, C. (2015). When Captain America Was an Indian: Heroic Masculinity, National Identity, and Appropriation. The Journal of Popular Culture, 48(2), 269-281. Berry, A. (2011, October 12). Urban Outfitters Taken to Task for Faux ‘Navajo’ Products. Time. Retrieved from Brannon, E. L., & Divita, L. (2015).
  4. Brown, Michael F. ‘Heritage Trouble: Recent Work on the Protection of Intangible Cultural Property.’ International Journal of Cultural Property, vol. 12, 2005, pp. 40-61. Accessed 27 Oct. 2016.
  5. Camilli, D. (2000, December 30). How low did we go?: 2000: A year of inanity, absurdity, stupidity and just plain craziness. The Gazette. Retrieved from Lexis Nexis Academic.
  6. Fashion Forecasting (4th ed.). New York, NY: Bloomsbury Publishing Boden, S. (2006). Dedicated followers of fashion? The influence of popular culture on children’s social identities. Media, Culture & Society, 28(2), 289-298. doi:10.1177/0163443706061690
  7. Shand, Peter. ‘Scenes from the Colonial Catwalk: Cultural Appropriation, Intellectual Property Rights, and Fashion.’ Cultural Analysis, vol. 3, 2002, pp. 47-88.
  8. Vejlgaard, H. (2008). Anatomy of a Trend. Confetti Publishing.

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