What is it about the Sikh turban that attracts fashion designers to use the head dress as accessory to be made part of their major collections? Time and again, the turban has been used by fashion photographers and designers as part of their collections, causing controversy to court their collections and designs. Members of the Sikh community have accused these brands of cultural appropriation.
A latest instance of cultural appropriation is done by none other than the legendary Gucci, an Italian luxury brand of fashion and leather goods. The fashion house has been criticised for selling the headdress.
Earlier available for $790 on Nordstrom’s website, the “Indy Full turban” has since been marked “sold out”. The name has also been changed to “Indy Full Head Wrap”. The product is not available on Gucci’s own e-commerce site or any other listed retailers.
Harjinder Singh Kukreja, an advocate of Sikh rights, was among the first people to spot the turban in the brand’s collection and post about it on his official Twitter handle. He shared a post along with pictures of models wearing the turban: “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”
On May 15, the Sikh Coalition tweeted its disappointment towards Gucci and Nordstorm for branding and selling the product. It stated, “The Sikh turban is not a fashion accessory, but it’s also a sacred religious article of faith. We hope more can be done to recognize this critical context. #appropriation.”
Others have since since followed suit, creating a massive uproar in the Sikh community.
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
.@gucci @Nordstrom The Sikh turban is not just a fashion accessory, but it’s also a sacred religious article of faith. We hope more can be done to recognize this critical context. #appropriation https://t.co/p1z3CYq0NT
— Sikh Coalition (@sikh_coalition) May 15, 2019
The product made a debut last year in the brand’s fall collection which also featured “balaclaves”. Gucci had then too faced backlash for the product because of claims that it resembled “blackface”. At that point, the brand had removed the product from its stores and issued a public apology in February, 2019 that said, “We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected and at the forefront of every decision we make.”
As of now, Gucci has not released a statement on the ‘Indy turban’ issue.
The Sikh turban, referred to as the “dastar”, is a mark of faith along with four other articles that baptized Sikhs are obliged to wear. These symbols represent honesty, equality, fidelity, never bowing to tyranny and meditation and contemplation of the divine.
Earlier in 2019, Bollywood celebrities Shraddha Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan were accused for appearing on magazine covers and yearly calendars that culturally appropriated symbols from another culture and space, thereby deluding them of their original meaning.