Marc Jacobs wrapped up New York Fashion Week with a presentation that was said to be inspired by rave culture, club kids, Harajuku girls and Boy George, all part of the ’80s and ’90s New York alt scenes that informed his more youthful years, ones he’s always been very fond of dipping into for creative inspiration.
The latter part of the ’90s was also significant for Jacob’s because it’s when he came under the protective bubble of LVMH, which to a large degree still inures him from criticism from traditional fashion press i.e. the major fashion mags of the world who can’t exist in their present form sans LVMH ad money.
A lot of well laid plans fell to pieces last week when Jacobs instead of presenting a fashion show, made himself a textbook case of how to pour massive amounts of time and money into a critical marketing event for a global brand only to have it turn into a ugly debate around the topic of appropriation and who has want kind of hair aka a public relations fiasco.
While the debate around appropriation is far from settled and we personally don’t have any issue with white people wearing locks or braids (where what every makes you feel fab!), it seems elementary that by now billion dollar corporations would want to avoid taking actions perceived as the equivalent of stealing ideas from groups viewed as marginalized, then turning around and reproducing them for great profit while at the same time erasing the roots of their origins.
However, in case you are a fashion brand seeking to create a debate around semantics instead of the clothes upon which your survival hinges, we’ve compiled a list of eight easy ways one can mimic the mess Jacobs made of his runway show.
- In press materials credit only white alt cultures as the inspiration for the dreadlock hair looks and make zero mention of the fact that ’80s and ’90s underground cultures were very much influenced by Rastafarianism as popularized by Bob Marley and other dreadlock-wearing Jamaican reggae artists.
- Purchase your locks from an Etsy vendor who only uses white women in her photographs and who appears to be completely detached from–literally–the roots of their origin.
- Use a hair director whose Instagram feed is overwhelmingly dominated by white women, quite a few who are shown in styles like cornrows and afros that are known for being popularized by black women. When said director is specifically asked if the hair in the show was influenced by Rastafarian culture, have him trash the softball he’s been tossed by clearly and emphatically stating no, it wasn’t.
- Defend yourself with an impromptu Instagram note dashed off to a random follower as though you’re an indie Russian brand with a following of 2,000 instead of relying on years of media training, all of which was provided to you because you are a very important representative for LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s largest luxury goods company whose owner is No. 4 on Forbe‘s list of billionaires.
- In said impromptu comment, behave as though you’re completely out of touch with the entire internet by waving off very current and widely-debated arguments around appropriation as “nonsense” and “close minded.” At the same time double down on creating offense by erasing people of color with the favorite statement of uncool, white people everywhere, “I don’t see color or race, I see people.”
- Make people lose their minds around your statement about not seeing race by going on to cast almost all white models for your runway show.
- Come across as an internet arguer novice by making the false equivalency argument of comparing the (almost all) white models in your show wearing fake locks to black women with straight hair.
- Believe that fashion media like your show’s inspiration is operating under ’90s-era rules and that as long as Vogue has your back (and indeed it does–no locks controversy story there), the rest is all just unwashed masses noise that doesn’t know better or matter. Social media, pshaw!
Though it doesn’t apply in Marc Jacob’s case, we can also recommend using rap music by indie artists as part of your runway soundtrack to make yourself seem street savvy and down, but then don’t actually invite the rapper to the presentation or the after party even if she lives in the city you’re holding the show in (yes, this has happened during NYFW!)