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

Essays & News

Issue 02: News Roundup, May 7, 2021

This first week of AAPI Heritage Month, we focus our discussion on issues relating to Asian American culture and fashion. Over the last year, there has been a terrible spike in hate crimes against Asian Americans. Asian women have been especially affected – they are more than twice as likely as men to report experiencing a hate incident. Hollywood is often referenced for its key role in establishing the problematic tropes that fetishize and exoticize Asian women in Western culture. But fashion has played a part too – from its complex historical entwinement with imperialism and Orientalism, to more recent examples, like Vogue’s 2017 ‘Geisha inspired’ editorial featuring Karlie Kloss or Dolce & Gabbana’s 2018 ad campaign mocking Chinese culture. FRD Contributor Anu Lingala explores how the fashion industry has responded to recent tragic events.

Read the latest issue.

Image of women at the Stop Asian Hate Rally in March 2021 in DC. They hold up signs, one reads #hateisavirus and the other reads Stop Asian Hate
“Stop Asian Hate” by Victoria Pickering is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 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

Podcast Episodes Highlighting Black Fashion History

Our latest Reading List features dynamic conversations about Black fashion history, including interviews with Black artists, academics, and cultural commentators. These episodes explore topics ranging from what it means to be Black in academia, to Black contributions in developing European and American high-fashion. Compiled by FRD Research Assistant, Kai Marcel.

Check out the latest reading list.

Woman in white crew neck t-shirt holding smart phone.

Dusan Jovic. “Woman in white crew neck t-shirt holding smart phone.” 2021.

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