I have to admit, in my privileged and ignorant bubble, the concept of cultural appropriation wasn't new to me, but I didn't grapple with it either. Not even when a dear follower wrote to us about how we felt about the topic. "Well, a turban is nothing new in fashion. Just like a kimono collar or a sari skirt.” I thought casually. That may be true, but that doesn't mean it's right. Turbans appear in different cultures from Asia to Africa and very often have a religious background. And that is precisely the problem: is it right to tear a piece of clothing out of its religious context and to misappropriate it under the guise of fashion? For this you have to look more closely at the history of the turban:
The word "turban" comes from the Persian and means something like "tulip" and this headgear has a millennium-old history. We know turbans, for example, from North African nomads, Turkish sultans or from India. As already mentioned, they are worn for religious reasons, to protect against the weather or for decorative reasons. In (pre)Islam, wearing the turban served as a sign of faith. In India, wearing a turban is reserved for men and indicates class, caste, occupation and religious belief. In North Africa, for example, turbans have been worn by the Tuareg for decades to protect them from the elements and are a symbol that the wearer has reached adulthood. In West Africa, the turbans are called “gels” and are worn by women in many different variations. They are used for transport and also have a decorative function. In Nigeria, mostly married women wear a turban called “ukyofo”. In East Africa, on the other hand, the "leso" or "khanga" is worn, which is made of colorful wax fabric. In Asia, turbans can be found in southwest China, Vietnam or Thailand. Turbans have also been worn in Europe since the early Middle Ages. During the Renaissance, turbans were common in Italy, England, Ireland and France, for example. Many important painters, such as Jan Vermeer (girl with turban) or Albrecht Dürer, depicted the so-called “headband” in their works. The turban then experienced a great renaissance in Europe in the 1920s. But these were sold sewn up and were more like a hat than a tied scarf. Liberation from Victorian constraints was celebrated.
Cultural appropriation is always reprehensible when a dominant (often privileged, white) group enriches itself from a discriminated and oppressed culture and abuses it for its own (financial) success. In the case of turbans, the situation is not clear, since this garment is spread all over the world and wearing it has different meanings. Nevertheless, we see the deeply rooted, religious origin and have made it our task to unite and depict the many different cultures and wearers in our brand. Undoubtedly, the topic polarizes and must be constantly and sensitively questioned. What is your opinion on this subject?
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