The Fashion and Race Database provides an accessible, academic treatment to one of fashion’s most critical topics facing us today.

Essays & News

Issue 04: News Roundup, June 4, 2021

Welcome to this week’s edition of In the News! This week, we look at how brands have been making good (and more often not making good) on their commitments to address inappropriate behavior and a lack of diversity behind the scenes, consider the deeply problematic colorism that runs rampant in global markets, and revisit the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety.

Read the latest issue.

closeup on a few people among hundreds at a demonstration in support of Palestine; a young man holds up a protest sign

Photo on Flickr by August Schwerdfeger is licensed under CC BY 2.0)


Tommy Hilfiger partners with The Fashion and Race Database

The People’s Place Program will partner with FRD to fund and support a new research study called ‘The Unsung History of American Sportswear’ to uncover overlooked influences from Black American culture on signature TOMMY HILFIGER styles. Over the course of 2021, the research will be developed into content series and educational resources that will be available internally, and to industry peers and consumers. The material will be designed to engage with audiences about the unrecognized areas of American style, and to open new dialogue on how marginalized history can come forward through purposeful collaborations in the industry.” Read the full press statement on the PVH website.

Water color styled title page (pink, blue, and green)

Tommy Hilfiger’s People’s Place was established in Elmira, New York, 1971. Image credit:

Featured Content

The Transorientalist Nature of the Blue-and-White Porcelain Aesthetic

The aesthetic of blue-and-white porcelain, when used by Western designers, is often perceived as a form of neo-chinoiserie that appropriates and bastardizes porcelain in a form of colonial power. The appeal and celebration of Chinese cultural identity in these items suggest that they align better with the history of China and its visual traditions. However, this is a notion that should be challenged.

The Problem with All-Black Castings

Diversity should be made intrinsic to a brand’s ethos and an ongoing conversation, not just an aesthetic, after which ads and campaigns go back to lily-white casting once calls for diversity have been quelled.

Through the Gaultier Glass: Couture, Colonialism and Cultural Appropriation

“Through the looking glass” is a metaphorical expression—albeit, a commonly misunderstood one; it means “on the strange side; in the twilight zone; in a curious, parallel world.” Today, we step through a different type of glass: the Gaultier glass. 


The traditional dress of South Asian women, the Sari consists of six to nine yards of fabric carefully draped around the body.


The sarape (or zarape) is an overgarment worn traditionally by men in rural areas throughout Mexico.

Interrogating the Presence of Blackamoors in High Fashion and Decorative Arts

“Have I ever showed you my little blackamoor heads from Cartier with their enameled turbans?”, the legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland wrote in her memoir D.V….

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Reading List

Fashioning African Textiles

This week’s reading list highlights five sources from our Library that explore the complex relationship between textiles and the cultures of the African diaspora. The sources take a material culture approach to delineating the ways in which race, gender, class, and identity are intrinsically linked to the production, trade, and wearing of African textiles, such as African lace, adire cloth, and bogolanfini mudlcoth. Compiled by FRD Research Assistant, Kai Marcel.

Check out the latest reading list.

Oladimeji Odunsi. “person with orange and white headdress.” 2018.

Oladimeji Odunsi. “person with orange and white headdress.” 2018.

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