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DECOLONIZING FASHION: Defying the ‘White Man’s Gaze’

by M. Angela Jansen

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Fashion designers outside the established fashion capitals are repeatedly considered according to (the references they make to) their cultural identity, while European designers will rarely be asked to explain or justify their references in regard to their cultural/national identity (just imagine asking Nicolas Ghesquière to explain his French references in his work for Louis Vuitton). Today a designer can easily be born in Morocco, grow up in France, study in Brazil and work in Korea. Does this make his or her work Moroccan, French, Brazilian or Korean? The so-called ‘globally recognised signifiers,’ be it wax-print for African designers, bold colours for Latin American designers or minimalism for Asian ones, are not only a stubborn heritage of Eurocentric imperialist thinking, but also a persisting means to differentiate, diminish and exclude ‘Other’ fashions from the dominant Eurocentric fashion discourse.

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