Scots, Maasai, and lawyers: ‘Cultural appropriation’ claims hit fashion industry

Scots, Maasai, and lawyers: ‘Cultural appropriation’ claims hit fashion industry
Maasai woman in traditional shuka. YouTube video

[Ed. – Bonus south-of-the-border angle.]

British designer Kim Jones, who took over last year from Van Assche at Dior Homme, has a more nuanced view, insisting “a huge amount of sensitivity … has to be put into place. …

Having grown up in Kenya and Tanzania, he referenced the shuka, the famous red and blue checked robe of the Maasai people, in a 2012 Vuitton menswear show.

It sparked protests from some, particularly as the cloth was woven in Scotland.

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But in a twist which shows how complex these issues can become, the shuka had its origins in the tartan that Scottish traders and missionaries brought to East Africa’s Great Rift Valley in the 19th century.

The Maasai have since hired lawyers to wring cash and credit from companies like Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Jaguar Land Rover and other multinationals who have used Maasai iconography.

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