Why Gucci Is Getting Backlash Again

When a white model wearing a turban stepped out on Gucci’s fall ’18 runway last February, many people castigated the brand for what they deemed to be appropriation of Sikh culture and religion.

Now the luxury fashion brand is facing renewed criticism for the same Indy Full Turban, which was recently spotted on Nordstrom’s website at a retail price of nearly $800. (The product is now marked as sold out on Nordstrom.com.)

Model on the catwalk Gucci show, Runway, Fall Winter 2018, Milan Fashion Week, Italy - 21 Feb 2018
A model on the runway at Gucci’s fall ’18 show during Milan Fashion Week.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

The bright blue headpiece — donned by a couple models at the show — was styled like the traditional headwear worn by Sikhs, whose roots are in South Asia. The item holds deep religious significance for members of the Sikh community.

In response, think tank Sikh Coalition wrote on Twitter, “The Sikh turban is not just a fashion accessory, but it’s also a sacred religious article of faith. We hope more can be done to recognize this critical context.” (According to the coalition, there are upwards of 25 million Sikhs around the world, with about 500,000 living in the United States.)

Other users were enraged.

“This is beyond aggravating,” wrote Aasees Kaur, whose username is @SouthernSikh. “Did someone at Gucci even bother to figure out what a dastaar (turban) means to Sikhs? Did it cross your minds to consider the history behind our identity? My people are discriminated against, even killed, for wearing a turban.”

Taran Parmar (@Tarankparmar) added, “The turban is one of the most important and symbolic articles of faith for Sikhs, and you’re selling it as a fashion accessory to make money? This isn’t the first time you’ve come under fire for cultural appropriation. Do better.”

The Italian label also faced criticism in early February when social media caught wind of a turtleneck black wool balaclava sweater that, when pulled up over the wearer’s nose, highlighted red lips that served as an opening for the mouth. The piece, which was part of a line of balaclava knitwear in Gucci’s fall ’18 collection, was said to evoke blackface and even led to pledges to boycott the brand.

A week after the allegations, Gucci launched a series of long-term initiatives designed to foster cultural diversity. President and CEO Marco Bizzarri said the company accepted “full accountability for this incident, which has clearly exposed shortfalls in our ongoing strategic approach to embedding diversity and inclusion in both our organization and in our activities.”

FN has reached out to Gucci for comment.

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