‘Do better’: Gucci knocked on Twitter, accused of cultural appropriation over $800 turban
The luxury label was called out for ‘cultural appropriation’ when the headwear made its runway debut at Milan Fashion Week in February. However the criticism was stoked once again when high-end department store Nordstrom began selling the item for $790.
Both the fashion house and Nordstrom were lambasted on Twitter for belittling the religious significance of the Sikh turban, reducing it to nothing more than an overpriced headpiece.
Dear @gucci, the Sikh Turban is not a hot new accessory for white models but an article of faith for practising Sikhs. Your models have used Turbans as ‘hats’ whereas practising Sikhs tie them neatly fold-by-fold. Using fake Sikhs/Turbans is worse than selling fake Gucci products pic.twitter.com/sOaKgNmgwR— Harjinder Singh Kukreja (@SinghLions) May 16, 2019
The turban is not just an accessory to monetize; it's a religious article of faith that millions of Sikhs view as sacred. Many find this cultural appropriation inappropriate, since those wearing the turban just for fashion will not appreciate its deep religious significance. pic.twitter.com/fldmxa3Wvr— Sikh Coalition (@sikh_coalition) May 14, 2019
.@gucci@Nordstrom - Sikhs’ Turban/Dastaar is an article of Faith. We wear it as a blessing of Guru Sahib— Manjinder S Sirsa (@mssirsa) May 16, 2019
It’s blasphemy to flaunt it as a hat or as a fashion accessory!
We demand immed withdrawal of selling turban like this or Sikhs worldwide will boycott your brand completely pic.twitter.com/h6xCqataen
Nordstrom buckled to the criticism on Wednesday, announcing on Twitter that they will no longer be carrying the product in their stores or online. “It was never our intent to disrespect this religious and cultural symbol,” read the store’s apology.
We have decided to stop carrying this product and have removed it from the site. It was never our intent to disrespect this religious and cultural symbol. We sincerely apologize to anyone who may have been offended by this.— Nordstrom (@Nordstrom) May 16, 2019
Not everyone felt the particular style of turban was the “sole ownership of Sikhs”, and explained the issues surrounding the headdress are complex given the history of the dastar and how many other cultures wear it.
Can I play devils advocate (as a dastar wearer)? Is a ‘turban’ how it is marketed here the sole ownership of Sikhs, given how many other cultures wear it? The style shown here is most likely ‘british’ is it not? Don’t forget how many ready made turbans are sold in shops already?— Sukhbir Singh (@ribkhus) May 14, 2019
I get your point but a turban isn't a sikh item, we took it from the rajputs. If Gucci made a damala then we can complain because that's a real sikh dastar, not a pag.— Dayal Ji (@dangerjatt165) May 15, 2019
The controversy comes just three months after the CEO of Gucci’s parent company said the brand would focus on teaching staff about cultural sensitivity following a severe backlash for a ‘blackface’ sweater produced by the company.
Seriously @Nordstrom@gucci ? The turban is one of the most important and symbolic articles of faith for Sikhs, and you’re selling it as a fashion accessory to make money? This isn’t the first time you’ve come under fire for cultural appropriation. Do better. pic.twitter.com/3KHtHSKEqm— Taran Parmar (@Tarankparmar) May 14, 2019
This is beyond aggravating. Did someone at @gucci even bother to figure out what a dastaar (turban) means to Sikhs? Did it cross your minds to consider the history behind our identity? My people are discriminated against, even killed, for wearing a turban. pic.twitter.com/G62edSmjhf— Aasees Kaur (@SouthernSikh) May 14, 2019
The fashion house went into full damage control, apologised for the offensive turtleneck which covered the lower portion of the face apart from a red lip cut-out, and pulled it from the shelves. Gucci have yet to comment on the latest debacle.
Gucci isn’t alone in the fight to stay culturally sensitive. Katy Perry was forced to pull a selection of black shoes that featured a human face after they were slammed as being racially insensitive. Nike recently removed its all-white sneakers from a collection designed to be a celebration of Black History Month.
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