The American fashion designer Tory Burch has been accused of cultural appropriation for featuring dresses that closely resemble Palestinian traditional embroidered designs, The New Arab reported.
Harvey Nichols described the dresses – priced upwards of £475 ($628) – as “folk inspired”, meanwhile online luxury outlet Net-A-Porter marketed the piece as an “embroidered linen kaftan”.
Neither Burch nor its online stockists appear to have acknowledged the apparent Middle Eastern inspiration for the designs, which has prompted a wave of social media backlash.
As if Zionist #appropriation werent enough, now we have to battle against designers eager to erase Palestinian tradition to make a profit. @toryburch this is unacceptable, its a Palestinian thawb not a caftan. Call it by its name, collaborate w the women who sustain it. pic.twitter.com/9QeXiu3l1n
— Noura Erakat (@4noura) December 10, 2021
Palestinian-American activist and legal scholar Noura Erakat has led the online protests telling her followers:
“As if Zionist #appropriation weren’t enough, now we have to battle against designers eager to erase Palestinian tradition to make a profit. Tory Burch this is unacceptable, it’s a Palestinian thawb not a caftan. Call it by its name, collaborate with the women who sustain it.”
Social media users have doubled down on Burch saying it was “not a good look” and calling for a boycott of Burch’s label.
Luxury Designer Tory Burch Slammed For 'Culture Appropriating' Palestinian designhttps://t.co/yD94nfzyjr
— In Palestine- Today (@IPalToday) December 14, 2021
In 2017, Burch angered Romanians after releasing a collection of garments that appeared almost identical to traditional garments from the Eastern European country.
A similar online backlash prompted Burch to issue a clarifying statement that “we strive to celebrate, honor and be inclusive of all women from all countries and cultures, in the broadest way possible”.
Earlier this year, controversy arose again over a jumper Burch designed, which closely resembled traditional fishermen garments from Northern Portugal, resulting in threats from the Portuguese government and the eventual removal of the item from Burch’s online store.
— The Palestine Chronicle (@PalestineChron) June 5, 2021
High-street brands and luxury designers alike have often found themselves in hot water over their alleged misuse of traditional Arab designs, particularly in the context of Palestine.
In June, luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton drew criticism over its release of a men’s scarf based on the keffiyeh, the traditional Arab headdress which is strongly associated with the Palestinian struggle.
(The New Arab, PC, Social Media)