Where there are glitz and glamour, there is room for controversy. After all, not all glitters are gold. The fashion industry is known for many success stories that have gone on to inspire lives and fashion (of course). But, there are plenty of stories that teach us to take caution. Just like any other industry, here as well you can find a long list of controversies that took it by storm and caused much damage. With time, the fashion industry would clean up its reputation and advocate changes, but one must never forget the past to prepare for the future.
While there are several controversies to mention, I am going to focus on 5 of them. These controversies are as scandalous as they sound and created ripples in social, business, and political circles around the world. Let us take a dive into these controversies and know what they were all about.
- Disrespecting Racial Differences
Racial stereotypes are all over the place. But, a celebrity is expected to take due caution of them and avoid falling into their trap of falsification. Gigi Hadid, however, embroiled herself in a controversy that caused much uproar in Asia. In a video, she was seen squinting her eyes while holding a samurai-shaped cookie. The repercussion of her causal videography placed her at the receiving end of backlash most evident from the protests she received when she had announced her China trip for the coveted Victoria’s Secret Fashion show. Gigi tendered an apology for the same, though she did not attend the show even after that.
- Victim Blaming
Hollywood was rocked by the upsetting sexual harassment revelations against American film producer, Harvey Weinstein, following which the iconic #MeToo movement gained international acceptance. Solidarity shown by the world encouraged more victims of Harvey Weinstein to come out in open. However, one incident in the fashion industry fuelled anger as it was suggestive of victim-blaming. Renowned fashion designer, Donna Karan, had expressed that the victims could have been “asking for it” which unsurprisingly invited castigation. Ultimately, she apologized but the world will remember what had transpired.
- Lucinda’s unceremonious exit
Anyone who has stayed long in the fashion industry would have surely heard of Lucinda Chambers, who is best known for her fashion directorship at British Vogue. Having invested more than three decades in Vogue, her unpleasant exit from the same was fitting for an angry response. In the year 2017, she was sacked followed which she gave a controversial interview that ultimately went viral. Her scathing attack on the fashion magazine powerhouse pushed the industry into a mess.
- Culture appropriation
Admittedly, it is becoming increasingly challenging to determine what does and does not amount to cultural appropriation—particularly due to the increased fluidity of national borders and creativity. Nevertheless, it is always a matter of controversy. In the year 2017, Karlie Kloss collaborated with Vogue for a photoshoot in which she was dressed up as a geisha. Many accused her and the magazine of engaging in blatant cultural appropriation. Despite having extended an apology for what she was involved in, social media users questioned whether the fashion industry would not casually appropriate cultures that are not theirs. This is not the first time the fashion industry, or the entertainment industry broadly speaking, has faced the ire of the public for being insensitive to Asian cultures; in the year 2015, for example, Gucci was criticized for featuring white models in Sikh-style turbans.
- Another Sexual Harassment Scandal
Unlike Harvey Weinstein’s scandal which has been determined in a court of law, the one concerning Bruce Weber is yet to see final judicial determination. Bruce Weber, a well-known American photographer, was accused of sexual assault by model Jason Boyce and Mark Ricketson. With time, more victims emerged and made claims against Weber. Bruce has denied allegations and pleaded before the court to dismiss the original suit filed by Jason. He claims that he has evidence to show that Jason sent him inappropriate pictures before and after the shoot. The rising allegations of sexual harassment in the industry highlight its dark side which is more often than not clouded by extravagance and glamour.