By Sierra Bein
I always thought fashion was lame. Caring about clothing, style or any of that stuff was superficial, until I realized how much power it holds.
This past week we’ve heard non-stop stories about the impacts of Black Panther, including the design of the costumes for the movie. Using elements from different countries and ways of life was able to add another layer of reality to the film. The importance of representation is felt off-screen; even red carpet premiere attendees and audience members dressed in cultural garments.
“The cultural dress displayed in the movie has become a transcending message that reaches beyond the Marvel universe to resonate in the real world,” wrote Kamille Coppin in The Eyeopener this week. “Countless dashiki’s are adorning the backs of Black people around the world like an armour infused with the history and resilience of their ancestors.”
Similarly to the empowerment that clothing can have, it can also leave people feeling aggrieved.
Wearing over-the-top traditional Indian outfits, Justin Trudeau toured the country with his family. Having studied in India, I can tell you from first-hand experience this is not how people dress everyday, or on many special occasions. Some people online joked that Trudeau was wearing traditional wedding attire on a “business trip.”
Even Gucci used Sikh turbans as part of their fall collection fashion show, worn by mainly white models. One tweet read, “Dear @gucci, the Sikh Turban is not a hot new accessory for white models but an article of faith for practicing Sikhs. Your models have used Turbans as ‘hats’ whereas practicing Sikhs tie them neatly fold-by-fold. Using fake Sikhs/Turbans is worse than selling fake Gucci products.”
Fashion is more than just a statement—it’s being able to put a piece of your identity on display. Fashion can send a message, intended or not. Even if you don’t care about fashion, putting thought into the clothes you wear should be something everyone does, because in a way that choice represents you.