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TLC in Manila Bulletin

TLC_MB.jpgNational daily Manila Bulletin featured The Lewis College on the front of their Schools, Colleges and Universities Bulletin section (E1), To see the online version of this article, click here (this opens a new window/tab).

Cultural Appreciation vs. Cultural Appropriation in Fashion

🌍 In the dynamic world of fashion, designers and creators draw inspiration from a plethora of sources. These sources often include various cultural elements that contribute to the rich tapestry of styles we see on runways and in our daily lives. However, the line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation can be thin and blurred at times.

The Beauty of Cultural Inspiration

🌸 Fashion has always been a melting pot of influences, and cultural diversity is a source of inspiration that can lead to beautiful and unique creations. Designers often look to different cultures for their aesthetics, textiles, and traditions. This cross-pollination of ideas can create stunning and innovative pieces that captivate the world.

Understanding Cultural Appreciation

πŸ™Œ Cultural appreciation in fashion entails recognizing and respecting the value of a particular culture's contributions to the industry. It involves celebrating and acknowledging the origins of these elements while incorporating them into designs in a respectful and informed manner.

🌟 One example of cultural appreciation is when a fashion designer collaborates with artisans from a specific culture to create a collection that not only pays homage to their traditions but also provides economic opportunities and visibility for their community.

The Perils of Cultural Appropriation

❌ On the flip side, cultural appropriation in fashion occurs when elements from a culture are taken out of their original context without understanding, permission, or respect. This can lead to harmful stereotypes, commodification, and disrespect of traditions and sacred symbols.

🀨 An infamous example of cultural appropriation is the misappropriation of Native American headdresses as fashion accessories, which not only distorts their cultural significance but also perpetuates harmful stereotypes.

Guidelines for Navigating Cultural Influences

🀝 So, how can the fashion industry and individuals strike a balance between appreciation and appropriation? Here are some guidelines to consider:

  • πŸ” Do your research: Understand the cultural significance of the elements you want to incorporate.
  • πŸ€” Seek permission: If possible, collaborate with individuals or groups from the culture you wish to draw inspiration from.
  • πŸ”‘ Give credit: Acknowledge the source of your inspiration and educate your audience about it.
  • πŸ›‘ Avoid sacred symbols: Refrain from using items that hold deep spiritual or cultural significance in a frivolous manner.
  • πŸ’¬ Listen to feedback: Be open to criticism and adjust your approach if you unintentionally appropriate a culture.

The Way Forward

🌈 Fashion is an ever-evolving art form that reflects the world's diversity. By appreciating and respecting cultural influences, the industry can continue to create beautiful, inclusive, and meaningful designs that celebrate the global tapestry of traditions and identities. Let's strive for a fashion world that bridges cultures and promotes unity while respecting the rich heritage from which it draws inspiration.

🌟 In conclusion, the distinction between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation in fashion hinges on understanding, respect, and awareness. When these elements are woven into the fabric of the industry, it can lead to a more vibrant, culturally enriched, and harmonious world of fashion.