Dior called out for appropriating Chinese culture with skirt design from Ming Dynasty era

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The topic of cultural appropriation has been widely discussed around the world, with a push for brands and labels to exercise more restraint and make informed choices when it comes to the marketing and sale of their products.

Cultural appropriation is not limited to brands, as even celebrities in their personal lives have been accused of it — from Kim Kardashian to Justin Bieber.

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Simply put, cultural appropriation is a concept wherein one assumes an identity that belongs to another culture, ethnicity and/or race, by means of their clothes and/or makeup and without realising or acknowledging the moral and social implications of it.

Dior was recently accused of appropriating Chinese culture, after protestors claimed the French luxury fashion house copied a classic skirt design, which dates back to the Ming dynasty. According to a New York Post report, many Chinese student protestors took the streets of Paris recently to demonstrate in front of the Christian Dior store on Avenue des Champs-Elysees. They also threatened to stage similar protests in global fashion cities of New York and London.

The garment in question, according to reports and social media posts, is a $3,800 (INR 3,03,088) black pleated skirt from Dior’s fall collection, which the fashion house states “highlights the idea of community and sisterhood in looks with a school uniform allure”.

But Chinese protestors claim it is a rip-off of the traditional ‘Mamian’ or ‘horse face’ skirt that was popular in China during the time of the Ming dynasty that lasted between 1368 and 1644.

The label’s skirt features a pleated fabric, along with four slits. Slamming it, an opinion piece on People.cn — an online portal of China’s People’s Daily — read (as quoted by several news outlets), “The so-called Dior silhouette is very similar to the Chinese horse-face skirt. When many details are the same, why is it shamelessly called a ‘new design’ and ‘hallmark Dior silhouette’?”

The only difference, people noticed, is that while Dior’s skirt is calf-length, the original horse-face skirt is floor-length.

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