What are ways to appreciate cultures through clothing?

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This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  funobtainium 2 weeks ago.

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  • #9901

    Nana
    Member

    I know that cultural appropriation is a huge thing at the moment and should be avoided.
    But for someone who honestly loves cultures, languages, etc. How would you be able to show that without it being appropriation?
    This is something I struggle with finding a way to express, and aside from this my heritage includes Africans, Native Americans and Romani. All of which are huge interest and inspirations for me in various aspects of my life. But my appearance is white with blonde hair which makes me feel, stuck, in a way.

    #9902

    funobtainium

    Jewelry! Bought from makers from that culture, but yeah, jewelry. I am not Native American and love the jewelry, but I’m not going to buy a ripoff design from Urban Outfitters, but save up and get a great crafted ring from a native designer, things like that.

    Accessories like scarves are also a good way to bring in patterns without being costumey.

    #9903

    molliemaywho

    Support and buy from a source that either identifies as the heritage or gives appropriate credit where it is due. Then, wear your chosen items respectfully. For example, don’t wear a feathered headdress or a bindi just because.

    A designer I’ve had my eye on is [b.yellowtail](https://byellowtail.com/).

    #9904

    Tfwbf

    I mean I think your heritage is fair game, even if you don’t look like other ppl of that culture or were raised outside of it. That’s honestly something I struggle with, I feel like I’m appropriating my own culture whenever try to partake in it.

    But for other cultures I’d say the way to appreciate them is supporting artists and designers from that culture and buying their work.

    #9905

    brieezy

    I too am mixed and look white, and I totally get feeling like you can’t or shouldn’t wear traditional clothing because people might think you’re appropriating. I’ve been accused of cultural appropriation while wearing traditional clothing from my family’s cultures, and it sucks, but for me having and using those items is more valuable than avoiding a few awkward encounters on the street. If you want to wear stuff from your culture, wear it, and know that anyone who would comment on it is just an uninformed jerk.

    #9906

    home_baked

    I think with cultural appropriation vs cultural appreciation, the onus is on you to research and explore what is appropriate for you and what you feel comfortable with. That means finding companies and artisans who are offering their creations for you to share in and you learn about their clothing and understand what it means. I think if an artist or company is selling their cultural clothing to the wider market and are explicit about it, you shouldn’t feel weird about doing what they want and purchasing their things if you want the item in its cultural context, understanding its tradition and meaning, and appreciating its aesthetics.

    My measure for this is you should be committed to the item. If you buy a piece of native art or clothing, understand: “this piece is a [blank] from [culture], who are from [location]. It was made by [native artist or ethical company], and I paid a good price for it. I love it because [the colors, workmanship, patterns, materials, structure, etc.] and because of what it means to the [blank] people, which is [x]. I’m really happy I can share in this tradition.”

    #9907

    InfiniteReflection21

    Do your research and don’t wear things that are meant for ceremonies of any type. Every culture has “every day” styles that can be emulated, and none of them are very different from most Western-wear. The only big difference will probably be textiles and patterns. I wouldn’t go around wearing an Aztec headpiece just because my ancestors were Aztec, so neither should the rest of you. It’s a matter of using common sense. What do the people of that culture do? What do they wear the garments for?

    #9908

    __chardeemacdennis

    Buy Native! [Kotah Bear](https://kotahbear.com) can have all my money. (Also having an Indigenous Peoples Day Sale currently.)

    #9909

    deviltje

    I think there are enough symbols/patterns of a culture you can wear without making people cringe as long as you stay clear of pieces with religious meaning or which are only worn in specific rituals.

    For example, if you would like to give a nod to Scottish culture you could incorporate a thistle into your outfit which is their national flower, or wear a thick Shetland jumper which IMO is better than wearing a mini skirt with tartan on it.

    I think every culture has key pieces which are generally worn but are not too loaded up with meaning. Sometimes it’s specific cuts of garments, sometimes a textile, sometimes patterns

    I learn a lot from the inspo albums here which are created with the aesthetic of a certain country in mind for example this one https://www.reddit.com/r/femalefashionadvice/comments/63kiai/1960s_singapore_inspo_all_aboard_the_retro_asian/?utm_source=reddit-android

    There was a website which listed all inspo albums ever made but I lost the link. I’m on mobile rn, maybe it’s in the sidebar?

    #9910

    lead_far

    Scarves! They show off beautiful patterns and fabrics without getting into the dicier or costume-ish territory that certain cuts of clothing might have.

    #9911

    BirdyDevil

    I would say you can get away with a little more if the culture is actually part of your heritage, regardless of what you look like – if people confront you about it, that’s a wake-up call to them that you can’t necessarily assume someone’s background by appearance. But anyway, this is just my viewpoint as a fellow white blonde girl with no idea about half my heritage, so take it with a grain of salt – I do my best to be sensitive and culturally appropriate, but, having grown up in a small white town in a family with racist tendencies, I am learning and not perfect by any means.

    I think the huge thing is if you’re drawing inspiration from a culture, make sure people of that culture are benefiting from that purchase – for example, if you’re going to wear Indigenous inspired jewelry with feathers and arrows and such, look for a smaller and/or local Indigenous artist ([for example, this artist is Indigenous and lives in my city](https://www.innerwolfjewelry.com/)) instead of buying stuff that’s mass produced in China. Then take note of what the particular item, pattern, etc. is – does it have some kind of sacred/ceremonial significance within that culture? Would people of that culture wear it as an everyday fashion item, or is it saved for special occasions or does it need to be earned as a status symbol somehow? If the first, then it’s probably ok. If the latter, then I’d avoid it for sure.

    #9912

    ImADoctorNotASpatula

    This is something I really struggle with. I used to live in southern Africa, and my favorite pieces to wear were the ones that my local tailor made for me. My colleagues were very supportive of me wearing the local style, and I viewed it as a tribute to their culture and how at home I felt there. However, back in the U.S., I feel like I can’t wear these pieces without venturing into cultural appropriation territory. I have definitely experienced the difference in attitude from Africans vs. African-Americans. I have mixed feelings about this topic and I am still trying to figure it out. Like the top comment says, I have found that the only pieces I wear right are accessories like jewelry.

    #9913

    Genghis__Kant

    I’m also a white passing person who wants to incorporate my non-white heritage into my wardrobe.

    Personally, before wearing anything seemingly from a non-white culture out in public, I’d be prepared for any questions.

    My mother is Mexican. So, if I wear anything that’s clearly a part of Mexican culture, I’ll likely get asked about it because I look white. I’d take the time to educate myself about the history and significance of the garment before wearing it so I could answer the inevitable questions.

    And, like others have mentioned, please only support artisans/seamsters/designers that have heritage related to the item being sold/purchased

    #9914

    dimestore_detective

    I mean I’m not sure why you need to wear their clothing in order to appreciate their culture. I can appreciate e.g. Japanese culture without needing to don a kimono. Buying cloth from weavers and artisans is a good way to support the culture. I think it’s fine to make clothing out of traditional cloth as long as it doesn’t have religious significance.

    Personally it annoys me when non-Indians treat sarees as though they are just bolts of fabric. They’re a complete garment and cutting it up just ruins the integrity of the garment, which pisses me off when it’s handwoven.

    #9915

    Susccmmp

    Anyone know where to find nice hand made moccasins? I searched several years ago at all the shops going through a specific tribes area and all they sold were Minnentonka’s (no where near the Minnentonka area) and finally a sign in one store said the tribe no longer made moccasins.

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