September 21, 2012

Flashback Friday | Urban Outfitter Take-Down

Ah man, it is hard to believe that it has already been one year since Adrienne Keene wrote that wonderful, absolutely beautiful post "Urban Outfitters is Obsessed with Navajos."

I gushed over Keene's take-down here, and fell in love with the Navajo Nation for trademarking their name. Brilliant. In fact, the UO case made my 2011 Top 10 Native Appropriations in Fashion list.

Since those initial actions one year ago, I wrote several follow-up posts looking at the legal aspects of the Urban Outfitters case, and was interviewed by various newspapers and blogs to weigh in on the issue. And, my super-scholarly quote was re-printed numerous times (including on FoxNews online): "Urban Outfitters- Don't claim Navajo, unless it's Navajo, and you ain't Navajo. So knock if off." Super duper scholarly, Dr. Metcalfe.

I still get requests to discuss cultural appropriation in fashion, and I'm happy to oblige, because now the cat is out of the bag and we get to get 'really real' when it comes to these complicated issues.

In fact, our recent discussion of Paul Frank's mock-powwow event has led to some rather interesting developments. Paul Frank Industries has reached out to Adrienne and I, and we will be working on new ways to think about Native appropriations in fashion - new ways that include education on a much larger scale (read: panel presentations to some of the biggest players in the fashion industry), collaborations with Native designers, and giving back to Native communities.

This is a critical time, and I'm looking at this new development as a history-making moment that will forever change how pop culture institutions think about 'Native inspiration'. Let's rock n roll.