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Fashion and Ethics

This guide provides an introduction to fashion and ethics, providing a wide array of resources (articles to podcasts), and a select group of case studies at the intersection of fashion and ethics.

Cultural Appropriation

How to define cultural appropriation in fashion?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines cultural appropriation as "[t]he unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the practices, customs, or aesthetics of one social or ethnic group by members of another (typically dominant) community or society."  For example, in fashion, the use of traditional attire of another country simply to make an aesthetic statement, it is appropriating the culture. Although there are many instances in fashion, this guide will not directly include images of these examples--instead this box will link to relevant videos, articles, and other resources.

Cultural Appropriation in the Creative Industry

"Cultural appropriation has long been an issue in fashion. Runway models wear everything from Native American headdresses to Sikh-style turbans. And the latest controversy is over Japanese fashion house Comme des Garcons. And when you see it, ask yourself if this is creativity or an insult?"

Academic Articles

Popular Media Articles


Indigenous Cultural Appropriation in Fashion with Bethany Yellowtail and James St. James

Unpacking Cultural Appropriation in the Fashion Industry with Korina Emmerich

From Navajo-themed clothing and turban-style headwear to cornrow wigs on white models, fashion has a long history of cultural appropriation. Like clockwork, a brand commits cultural appropriation, repents after facing accusations, and months sometimes weeks later, another brand is in the hot seat for committing yet another atrocious misstep. What is the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural influence? When is it problematic to adopt customs, practices, or ideas from a group of people or culture? And what's the line between inspiration and appreciation and cultural appropriation? With so many cringe-worthy examples of what not to do, why do so many brands still get it wrong? In this live conversation, CEO of New York-based brand EMME chats with Kestrel Jenkins of the Conscious Chatter podcast about the nuances of cultural appropriation in fashion.

Amy Sall on cultural appropriation & preservation

Global style influencer, human rights activist, and cultural studies professor Amy Sall has spent her life negotiating two continents—an experience that's helped shape her view of African Thought as well as that powerful place where style, culture, and politics meet.

Native Appropriations

Created by Adrienne Keene, a member of the Cherokee Nation and an assistant professor at Brown University, Native Appropriations is an internationally-recognized blog that covers cultural appropriation and stereotypes of Native peoples in fashion, film, music, and other forms of pop culture.

Native/American Fashion 9 | Adrienne Keene

Native/American Fashion: Inspiration, Appropriation, and Cultural Identity (2017 Symposium held at the National Museum of the American Indian) explored fashion as a creative endeavor and an expression of cultural identity, the history of Native fashion, issues of problematic cultural appropriation in the field, and examples of creative collaborations and best practices between Native designers and fashion brands. In this segment, we hear from the first panelist to speak on the topic Problematics of Cultural Appropriation in Contemporary Fashion, Adrienne Keene of Brown University. Her talk is titled “Navajo” Underwear and Headdresses on the Runway: A Look at the Last Five Years of Cultural Appropriation in Fashion.

To watch more from this symposium, use the embedded playlist below.