WHEN TWINNING GOES TOO FAR
As you probably know, cultural appropriation is currently (and has been for quite a while) one of the hottest and most complex topics on the social agenda. Now more than ever, brands need to take notice of this movement, because they can rest assured that they’ll get called out for being a so-called culture vulture. One of the world’s most iconic high fashion brands recently slipped up and got called out by a small Romanian community in the best way possible. Get ready for Dior vs. Bihor!
When Dior presented their pre-fall collection last year, its motives were praised, but soon after eyebrows were raised. The patterns, colors and fabrics of the series showed an uncanny resemblance with the indigenous clothing of the people of Bihor, a region in western Romania. However, Dior didn’t give credit and none of the proceeds (jackets selling upwards of €30k) went to the Bihor community. Instead of suing the multinational, the community struck back in appropriate fashion.
Together with Romanian magazine Beau Monde, they launched a campaign and accompanying collection named Bihor Couture. Through this fashion line, they offer traditional Bihor clothing at a reduced price, of which the proceeds go to the communities of the region directly. As part of the launch, some of the clothing was modeled at Paris Fashion Week and influencers took notice. The pre-orders in the first month alone, ensure that the community is provided with work for the next 4,5 years.
In our current Mash-up Culture (trend!), where inspiration is drawn from anywhere, it can sometimes be hard to remain original. However, that does not mean it is ok to copy something and sell it as your own. It becomes a different story when you take an idea and morph it into something completely different, while still giving credit when credit is due! Speaking of credit, a big thank you to our Spark Priscille Tariel for sharing Bihor's story with us.
Hopefully this sends a message to other small and big fashion brands alike, to ensure these local traditions never go out of stock.