Gucci is notorious for romanticising (read: profiting off of) cultures that aren't theirs and lifting aesthetics they have little to no understanding of and they've done it yet again. This time, the Italian high fashion brand has released its own line of kaftans, selling in the range of $2,500 to $3,000.
What the brand is calling a "floral embroidery organic linen kaftan" is selling for $3,500, or a meagre Rs540,977.
But the kaftan looks very similar to a kameez.
The design isn't even the most original or profound take on a centuries-old tradition, it is literally an average iteration of designs we've seen outside storefronts, or in Generation catalogues. The brand literally picked their aesthetic out of what they've seen on Asian and Middle Eastern streets, recreated the designs they saw most often, put them on top of a green-tracks-wearing model, gave her a basketball and voila — billions.
The point the user's trying to make really does strike a chord. We glorify these international brands for their halfhearted and shoddy attempts at recreating looks that are outright imported, while our local craftsmen, who create significantly more intricate and eye-catching designs go largely unappreciated. They make a joke of an income, sit at the fringes of society and the economy, while this new Gucci line has already sold out.
Coming back to the point though, how do brands like this take themselves seriously?
The beige with multicoloured embroidered kurta, as it would be called in our part of the world, would be up for grabs for around $20 in Pakistan, the user rightfully pointed out, though minus the red-green stripes. The stripes add the other $3,480.
A monthly instalment programme is justified for an outfit that costs this much because there is little chance the people who actually wear it every single day would be able to afford it otherwise. Good job, Gucci.
This is not the first time this has happened. Brands have preyed on non-western traditions and cultures for profit several times before, one may even call it a trend, with little to no push back or accountability.
Earlier this year, Zara, the world's largest apparel retailer operating out of Spain, put up an advertisement for an 'oversized shirt', that seemed a bit too familiar, and a lot more audacious. The "long oversize collared shirt with long drop-shoulder sleeves and cuffs", or kameez, was selling for Rs.19,500.
You don't have to look too far back to remember the New York fashion brand Forward selling an ajrak top, inspired by "French style" and no mention of Sindhi heritage. Or the Forever 21 kolapuri, or the Christian Louboutin Peshawari chapals.
Western fashion seems to be made up of pieces from other cultures but you wouldn't know it since they don't bother to give credit.