Okay let’s face it: if you’re not a hipster caucasian, you’ve probably been pissed off or offended by Urban Outfitters at least once. I happen to be a caucasian (who buys from UO but never the house brand) and I’ve found some of their stuff really offensive – especially their propensity to appropriate other cultures into their collections and call them their own. Call it a ‘tribute’, if you will, but ‘Navajo-style’ is apparently all the trend now, especially for festival-season fashion, and brands like UO make millions every year selling the ‘Native-American Look’.
The thing is, they’re not Native-American. They’re caucasian. They’re making buckets of cash by milking a cultural cow that doesn’t even belong to them. And you might say ‘that is fine, they’re just designs, anyone can make someone inspired by native-american culture and sell it’ but think of it from the point of view of someone of NA heritage: wouldn’t you be offended? I would. Especially if there is actual real native-american fashion and jewelry out there that is not getting any attention. Big chain brands like UO as well as high-end labels (take Isabel Marant, for example) have taken Navajo designs, as well as Pendleton blanket designs and nearly copied them into coats and sweaters, selling them for hundreds of dollars. You might say ‘but Zara copies Prada all the time’ and it’s true. But there’s a difference between ripping off a brand and ripping off a whole culture – one is being business-savvy, the other one is being downright offensive.
Beyond Buckskin is a blog and online boutique dedicated to bringing attention to real NA fashion, made by people of NA heritage. So if you like this sort of design and actually want to help these communities instead of just looking cool at Coachella, give the website a look. I’ve been drooling at the jewelry section for a while and picked out most of my favourite designs. The second I get some extra money I’m definitely ordering a few things – because if I want NA-inspired designs, I’d rather get them from actual NA designers.