August 1, 2010

Miami Swimwear Fashion Week 2010 - A Mini-Review

(Lisa Blue 2011 Collection. Miami Fashion Week. Photo: Getty Images for IMG)

The Mercedes-Benz Miami Fashion Week Swim 2010 is running amok with cultural appropriation.

I guess with a swimsuit, you don’t have a lot of material to work with, and it’s probably difficult to get super creative with such limited expectations of swimwear. So, evidently, designers have turned to accessorizing in order to convey ‘themes’ that will set their collections apart from other swimwear lines. This trend, then, creates a situation ripe for cultural appropriation.

At the Miami Fashion Swim Week, designers look to the Middle East (for a Genie in a bottle feel – with harem pants, belly-dancer garb, and glimmering gold coins), to Hawaii (for a luau vibe – with beating drums, shells as instruments, and contrasting black detailing), and to ‘Aboriginals’ (for an eco-friendly, save the whales feel – with feathers, body paint, and swirling tribal prints). These lines, interestingly, were presented alongside one designer’s Little Mermaid-inspired collection.

Which begs the question – are cartoons a main inspiration point for these designers? or, has Disney’s renditions of various world cultures (which are drawn from popular stereotypes) seeped into our minds and tainted the perceptions we have of them?

Swimwear, it seems, with its need to accessorize to convey artistic creativity, highlights how stereotypes influence fashion, which in turn influences our everyday lives and our perceptions of other cultures.

Swimwear designers: surely you can find another point of inspiration rather than Aladdin, Pocahontas, and Lilo and Stitch.