Why is this New York fashion brand selling ajrak designs as 'brick multi'?

Published 06 Apr, 2019 01:32pm

Images Staff

Owners of the brand say they're inspired by French style but won't give due credit to Sindh for the ajrak print

You'd think in 2019, people would understand that stealing designs from a culture and dubbing them something else is just plain wrong but no. It's happened again.

New York-based fashion brand Sea is selling a top they like to call 'Ezri Sleeveless Top' and they've described its colour as 'Brick Multi' but if you ask us, it looks quite different from said brick multi. It looks like something else...

Sea appears to have taken the ajrak-printed fabric, a prominent symbol of Sindhi culture, and simply chosen not to acknowledge its origins. Also, they're selling the top for a whopping Rs47,090 - at the moment on a discounted price of Rs18,414. Yikes.

The brand, owned by Monica Paolini and Sean Monahan, is said to be "inspired by the polished effortlessness of the French." Looks like they have no problems honouring their inspirations, so why was the rightful Sindhi credit given a miss?

This is just one of many instances where ethnic designs have been copied and replicated in the West and sold for exorbitant prices. English menswear designer Sir Paul Smith found himself in hot waters in 2014 when he replicated Peshawari chappals and sold them as a design of his own (he called them 'Robert') for a whopping £300. More recently, Christian Louboutin gave his own spin to the Peshawari chappals and dubbed them 'Imran sandals'. Again, no credit was given to where the shoe design stems from.

Also read: This hot new line of shoes at Forever 21 looks strangely familiar

Desi Twitter has caught wind of this latest instance of cultural appropriation and valid outrage has ensued.

The ajrak holds a special place in Sindhi culture and is traditionally presented to guests to honour them. To see a brand with no ties to Sindhi culture present it as regular fabric with no respect for its intended purpose is not okay. Also, once again, brick multi? Really?

We're kinda sick and tired of articles of clothing that stem from one's culture and traditions being taken and dubbed as 'festive' clothing or being re-branded for commercialism. Cultural appropriation erases the community from which it has taken from and is ignorant towards the context behind the item they took because to them it's a fun fashion trend.

Culture is not a trend.