Somewhere, Urban Outfitters is saying “Welcome to the club” to Zara, now the latest retailer to commit the crime of cultural appropriation. The Spanish brand is selling a “check mini skirt” that looks a lot like a traditional skirt called a lungi, worn mainly by men in South and Southeast Asia, East Africa, and some Arab countries. The only difference is that Zara’s version costs $90, while you can get an authentic lungi for under $5. Oh, and Zara’s is dry-clean only.
The flowing skirt from Zara is brown with a draped detail and slip in the front — identical to the lungi’s cut, so designed because it is cooler and more comfortable for men to wear in the warmer months. And tourists, drawn to its length and modest look, usually end up purchasing one to wear into temples.
When the Twitterverse discovered the skirt, it began tearing the brand apart for stealing from another culture and jacking up the price in the process.
The idea of someone buying a £70 lungi is qwhite funny. https://t.co/gXZl55PZcg?amp=1
— Megha Mohan (@meghamohan) January 29, 2018
— Sally Lin • 林樾 (@sallyyuelin) January 30, 2018
— Qursheed (@strawbaby_whirl) January 30, 2018
If you need an argument as to why it's important to have BAME people at every level in business and marketing, I give you the lungi-dads-skirt disaster by @ZARA where literally ANY Indian person could've pointed out in two minutes what the problem is with this
— Poorna Bell (@poornabell) January 30, 2018
One user pointed out that if Zara had any black, Asian, or ethnic-minority folks in the right department, this never would have happened.
— majid (@kaapiccino) January 30, 2018
Zara did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.
After all the brands that have been called out for similar crimes in the last few years, Zara should have probably seen this one coming. In fact, earlier this week, Zuhair Murad was accused of cultural appropriation for naming its recent Native American-inspired runway show “Indian Summer.” People found it offensive that models walking in the spring/summer 2018 couture show were styled with feathers in their hair, as the feather is a sacred symbol to Native Americans.
Kendall and Kylie Jenner were attacked a few months ago when they released the “Lee Leather Clutch,” which looked like a Chinese takeout box. The handbag is also emblazoned with a red tiger and the words “KK Express Los Angeles.”
People then got mad at Chanel for selling a boomerang — and not just because it cost more than $1,000, but because the brand was making money off of a tool once used by indigenous Australian communities, some of which are still struggling to survive.
If you really do like the lungi look, we suggest supporting an Indian retailer while saving money and enjoying all the color and pattern options that Zara doesn’t offer — for as little as $4 a piece at Lungi Wala.
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