Let’s talk about Stella McCartney’s new collection SS18. According to Stella, these coming sunny days, we will wear the acid-washed jeans from the 80s and some wax fabrics. Besides the inconsistency of the collection, Stella once again came under the fire of Afro-centrists activists reprobing the cultural appropriation of the brand. The Wax: this little piece of fabric which represent the all African identity in the matter of fashion. Most of the social media users claim she failed not given “appropriate credit” to African designers. The website OkayAfrica accused the designer of “fashion colonialism”, and invited her to “stop taking designs that Africans have been wearing for years, calling them your own, and charging people out the ass for them”
Yes, this is unacceptable! And to support my people, I decided to call the head office of Stella and share my thoughts about this cultural “hold up”. Here is our virtual conversation.
Me: Hi may I talk to Ms. Stella McCarthney, please?
The Stella Team: Erm… Ms. Stella is not around, she is currently in Africa for the funeral of the last white rhino.
Me: Thinking.. (you see…in Africa, stealing our culture..) Ok, good to know. May I speak to Stephane Jaspar ?(he is Stella McCartney’s chief marketing officer).
The Stella Team: Please, could you give me your name, the purpose of your call and I’ll put you through.
Me: SevGranderoyale, the one, and only fashion detective.
Stephane Jaspar: Stephane speaking!
Me: Hi steph! I’m calling you about the Stella Gate.
SJ: the Stella gate?…
Me: you know, the last Paris fashion week, the Stella catwalk with wax fabrics and none-existing black models. People are complaining about it and accusing Stella of cultural appropriation. What is your word regarding the issue?
SJ: Well… I have no idea of what you mean by cultural appropriation. You know this collection resonates with the ethos of the brand which is championing sustainability and animal rights. We designed the prints in collaboration with Vlisco in the Netherlands, the company that has been creating unique Real Dutch Wax fabrics in Holland since 1846. You don’t ignore that the Dutch wax is Dutch..as his name says.
Me: yeah but no…The wax is African. We have been wearing it for ages and it is now our heritage.
SJ: Probably! But because of your “Heritage”, you cannot stop keeping the business going on. I mean, we contact a European-Dutch company, the world leader in quality wax fabrics, we bring our own design and made a collaboration for our collection, that’s it. We did not harm any culture, if I may say so.
Me: This is not acceptable! And please, do not play with our nerves! We all know that the wax fabric was imported by Dutch in Africa, but we are the ones who promoted it the most and you cannot ignore that this is the essence of our fashion culture. Also, what design are you talking about? I cannot see any of it. You drew a fan and a microphone as prints and you are talking about design?!! Do you know that the prints in the Ankara Fabrics (yes, that’s the African name) do not happen by chance? The prints inspiration most of the time comes from the current social situation in African countries. The given name of any fabric is an important process where all the community living there takes part. Even the dress you are selling more than 1600 dollars is “Something my mum has been wearing for years when she wants to make stew” (credit: @nnennasays)
SJ: Well…Did your Mum copyright her dress?
Me: No…What for?
SJ: Well… what’s your name again?…SevGranderoyale? Ok, Let me tell you, the fan or micro prints or mama- gonna-make- a-stew-dress are all copyrighted. In other words, you will not find this design in Dantopka or Adjame Market but at Stella McCartney shop.Otherwise, it’s a fake. This is Branding love! And now, I think we should clear the line, one of our good customers from Mayfair is probably trying to call us for ordering a dress for her garden party. Thanks for your call anyway, It was a pleasure discussing with you.
Me …with my phone in my hand realizing once again the system took us to the cleaners. Vlisco indeed as the owner of the “African prints” can deal with whoever he wants. We cannot call “cultural appropriation” something we do not own. We are just users, consumers for ages of imported wax fabrics from Holland. Now we had set the course for the popularity and success of the Dutch Wax, they have all the credibility to charm the luxury European fashion industry. But, don’t get them wrong, they still adore us as good customers and devoted free brand ambassadors.