And Gucci does it again. Months after their facepalm-inducing balaclava sweater design which was wildy reminiscent of blackface, the luxury brand is in hot water again. This time, for headwear they’re selling which resembles the traditional Sikh turban.
The piece first made its debut in the brand’s Milan Fashion Week show in February 2018. That time, it already received criticisms, particularly for being modeled by a caucasian male. CBS notes, “Gucci failed to respond in a way that was satisfactory to those it offended, and the controversy bubbled up again this week when social media users identified the ‘Indy Full Head Wrap’ for sale on Nordstrom’s website.”
In the site, the accessory is described as a “gorgeously crafted turban” that’s “ready to turn heads while keeping you in comfort as well as trademark style.” At $790, it was sold out before Nordstrom took it down following the uproar.
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
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
One of the reasons Sikhs wear turbans is to promote equality. It is insulting to first simplify our religion into a fashion accessory and secondly sell it for hundreds of dollars. The wrap of the turban is done in Sikhi style, this is not cultural but #ReligiousAppropriation.
Sikhs were especially enraged at the cultural insensitivity. Kiran Kaur Gill, executive director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, told HuffPost that “the turban is an integral article for Sikhs, and the religious group has had to fight for their right to wear it.” In fact, the HuffPost cites that just this weekend, “Gurvinder Grewal, who’s Sikh, was not allowed in a bar in Long Island, New York, because of his turban.”
“Sikhs in India and in the diaspora globally have faced discrimination and persecution due to their religiously mandated Turban,” Gill said. “These obstacles are real and affect Sikhs across the world in their daily life.” He further said that by using the turban to profit, Gucci had “reduced a religiously mandated article of faith into a fashion accessory and utilitarian piece of clothing.”