Beyond the aesthetic issues I have with so-called “ethnic” or “tribal” fashion, I also have ethical problems with the trend. Fashion tends to take visual cues from a whole spectrum of influences without always stopping to think what kind of attitudes or problems it may be tacitly endorsing by glorifying a particular look, and ripping off indigenously sourced materials and patterns without providing any kind of benefit to the people who created them or the culture from which they come is among the least attractive practices in modern fashion.
Fetishizing and caricaturizing cultures that have been blighted by Western influences is offensive; instead, indigenous societies deserve respect and understanding. Luckily, people like the Wayuu Taya Foundation are working to bring the trends and the cultures that produced them together in order to sate fashionable desires as well as enrich the groups whose lives have inspired the trends. (more…)