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This colonialism-themed fashion collection is the worst thing ever


Sometimes I feel really good about working in fashion, an industry that’s currently undergoing a period of diversification and real, positive change. Aaand then I see things like Big Uncle’s SS18 ‘Colonial Deal’ collection, and it’s like, oh my God, what am I doing with my life?

If you needed a reminder about how culturally ignorant the industry can be, here it is guys: a fashion brand putting the word ‘colonialism’ on a sweatshirt and getting a white model to pose in it. A racist system built on the forceful taking of land, exploitation, slavery, and cultural imperialism: so hot for SS18.

I’ll let the brand, which hails from Italy, introduce the collection: “A short and an intense journey in the West former colonies in order to understand the Colonial style. The garments, whether they have different weights and consistencies, whether they are rough or delicate, remind us of our emotion, of our COLONIAL DEAL.” I have no idea what that means, but apparently it translates to clothes in sandy neutral tones inspired by the ‘dusty dirt roads’ of the former colonies. The collection was first unveiled last summer, in time for it to be produced and sold for the coming season. 

Mireille Harper, who describes herself as a mixed-race person who has lived and studied in Italy, has started a petition to get Big Uncle to pull the line from sale.

“Both fashion designers (Sabino Lebba and Riccardo Moroni) seem blatantly unaware of the continuing legacy of racism, oppression and poverty which ‘colonialism’ has created. Whether their views are misguided or downright racist, I cannot argue, however they appear to have a complete lack of understanding for people of colour who continue to live with the intergenerational trauma that lingers today in all pockets of society, particularly in their own country of origin, Italy, where racism, prejudice and discriminatory behaviour continues.”

According to the petition, the designers behind the line deemed the collection to be a “‘post-modern’ approach to addressing words as ‘signified and signifiers’”. Take note, Big Uncle: pretentiousness is not an excuse.

If you want to sign the petition, head here.