With the prominence of social activism nowadays, one would think that fashion designers (especially streetwear creators) would be a little more mindful when creating for consumers, particularly the youth who make up such a large demographic for street clothing.
But it seems like a facet of fashion is still tone-deaf. Brooklyn based fashion retailer, UZINYC, inappropriately named their sleeveless cotton piece as a “Refugee Dress”, and it comes as no surprise to see an absurdity like this to spread like wildfire.
People on social media are calling out the brand for the crass name and some are even asking them to apologize. One Twitter user mentioned that the label’s brand description is just as tasteless as their improperly named garment with UZINYC outlining themselves as “urban nomadic”.
“Refugees are neither ‘nomads’ nor sales gimmicks. Apologize, rename the dress, and donate to UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)”. Another user accused the retailer of profiting from the refugee crisis.
— Sana Saeed (@SanaSaeed) August 1, 2017
— Namira Islam (@namirari) August 2, 2017
— Cat Turhan (@cattyfantastic) August 1, 2017
Finally, after a storm of bad publicity, UZINYC’s co-founder Mari Gustafsson explains that the dress was named 10 years ago but it has only sparked controversy online just recently. According to him, it was named as a way to incite discussion about the refugee crisis. “We named the dress in 2007 when we could not see ourselves escaping the reality of a global economy spinning out of control,” he shared with HuffPost. “The language we have used to describe our fabric is common within the fabric industry; it in no way references human beings. We understand that we have unintentionally offended some people with whom we share the same concerns, but in that process we have also been able to amplify our shared message.”
Since then, the brand decided to rename the piece as an “Oxford Dress”. Despite the apparent miscommunication, this could be a lesson to all designers to be more mindful of their designs. As they possess a platform with a large audience, it’s important to be conscious and empathetic of exigent world issues.
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