Gucci in hot water again over cultural insensitivity

It appears that sometimes people just don’t think. Gucci was in the headlines again this week for its "Indy Full Turban," which was listed for sale on luxury department store Nordstrom’s website for a hefty price of $US790.

And it’s both its flippant representation as a fashion item and the fact that it is so expensive that has upset Sikh adherents for whom the turban is both an article of faith and a representation of equality. Wearing a Sikh dastaar, or turban, is required for all Sikh men and women. Among the Sikhs, the dastaar represents honour, self-respect, courage, spirituality, and piety.

According to a report from the Huffington Post, “Sikhs in India and in the diaspora globally have faced discrimination and persecution due to their religiously mandated Turban,” Kiran Kaur Gill, executive director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund told them over email. “These obstacles are real and affect Sikhs across the world in their daily life.”

Gill added that by commodifying the turban, the fashion house had “reduced a religiously mandated article of faith into a fashion accessory and utilitarian piece of clothing.”

Further protests were seen on Twitter:

"Dear @gucci, the Sikh Turban is not a hot new accessory for white models but an article of faith for practising Sikhs. Your models have used Turbans as 'hats' whereas practising Sikhs tie them neatly fold-by-fold. Using fake Sikhs/Turbans is worse than selling fake Gucci products," Harjinder Singh Kukreja wrote on Twitter.

"For Sikhs, the turban is a crown. It is a sign of equality, that no person is greater than the other. That is why Sikhs have taken what was traditionally a sign of royalty and made it into everyday wear. It is meant to be cheap and accessible for all," Jasvir Singh wrote.

Nordstrom has now removed the item and has apologised, although Gucci so far has not addressed the issue.


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