Cultural Appropriation in Fashion: A Complete Guide

Cultural Appropriation in Fashion has been a Topic of Discussion for many years. It is the act of taking elements from a culture that is not your own and using them in a way that is disrespectful and insensitive. This can include clothing, accessories, hairstyles, and even makeup.

The fashion industry has been guilty of cultural appropriation for decades and it is time we address this issue and find ways to prevent this from happening in the future. 

Cultural Appropriation in Fashion 

Cultural Appropriation in Fashion 

There are many fashion designers who pick up important elements from other cultures and incorporate them into their collections and today we bring you a list of some of the designers and brands who have shown cultural appropriation in their collections.

Marc Jacob

When it comes to cultural appropriation in fashion, one cannot forget Marc Jacobs. Marc Jacob was heavily accused on social media when he walked white models like Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Irina Shayk, Adriana Lima, and Taylor Hill in a faux dreadlock hairdo for the 2017 spring/summer show. Mark didn’t know that black women are fired at their workplaces for wearing their ethnic style which includes dreadlocks as later he claimed he didn’t see color or race and apologized for his action.

Less than a year after the incident, Jacobs was again criticized for his actions; He came under fire for using a Native American headdress in his Spring/Summer 2018 show.

Victoria Secret 

Victoria’s Secret is another perfect example of Cultural Appropriation in Fashion. During the 2010 Victoria’s Secret show, they showed a part called Wild Things, in which models including Emanuela De Paulo wore animal print lingerie surrounded by men with black patterns painted on their bodies.

Similarly, in 2012, once again Victoria’s Secret had to become the reason for the anger of the people. Victoria Angels walk the ramp during the 2012 show to represent one month of the year. Karlie Kloss used a feathered headpiece with suede fringe, and leopard-print lingerie to represent Thanksgiving, which didn’t exactly go down well with hurt communities. 

Vogue Arabia 

In March 2017, the first issue of Vogue Arabia magazine was published, in which Gigi Hadid was seen. Viewers were looking forward to it and were also wondering if a Middle Eastern woman would be featured on the cover.

Gigi Hadid used hijab as an accessory for the magazine shoot, which was heavily criticized by Islamists because it is an important element of Islamic religion and Muslim women face more hatred for wearing the hijab. 

Isabelle Marant

French fashion designer Isabel Marant was accused by the Mexican government of copying Mexican traditional indigenous patterns. She used traditional Native American and Mexican Designs in her Collection without giving proper credit or compensation to the communities from which they originated.

She was later also criticized for using African prints and designs in her collections without acknowledging the cultural significance behind them.


At the 2018 Milan Fashion Week, Gucci made its white models wear turbans on the runway in its Autumn/Winter show, which angered the Sikh community as the turban is considered a symbol of purity, honor, and spirituality in the Sikh religion.

Later the Sikh Coalition expressed their feeling by tweeting that “The Sikh turban is not just a fashion accessory, but it is also a sacred religious article of faith. We hope that more can be done to recognize this important context”.


Valentino faces criticism after authenticating her ‘Africa’ themed collection at 2016 Paris Fashion Week. 

She was accused of using ‘Tribal’ necklaces and prints, cornrows And for the runway, only 8 out of 87 models were in black, i.e. 91% of the models were white models. 

Cultural Appropriation in Fashion by Hollywood Celebrities

Cultural Appropriation in Fashion by Hollywood Celebrities

Kaylie Jenner 

The popular Hollywood personality Kylie Jenner met accusations for posting an old pic in which she was flaunting her twisted platinum hair which is a protective style of American- African Culture but later deleted it. 

Kim Kadarshian 

Shortly before, Kim Kardashian shared some photos for the campaign of her brand KKW Beauty. In the picture she posted, she was wearing the earring of Om, which is very important for Hinduism, she deleted the photo after receiving backlash from Hindu people on Twitter

Selena Gomez

In 2013, popular Hollywood singer Selena Gomez faced the wrath of Indians at the MTV Movie Awards for her song Come and Get It, in which she entered the stage wearing a veil and a bindi. Apart from this, she also included Bollywood dance sequences in her performance. Indians criticized her saying that the bindi should not be worn casually as an indecent display or as a fashion accessory.


Avoiding cultural appropriation in fashion is not a difficult thing because fashion is all about originality and creativity. All the experiences we receive through our trips have always had a significant impact on our ingenuity. 

Fashion is an important responsibility for a fashion designer, especially when you have to show others’ culture through your designs to your community.

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