Our culture is the bridge between the different moving parts of society. From the arts to sciences, there are many components and people involved that bridge this connection. Specifically, fashion creates a platform and dialogue for change; it not only connects people to one another, but propels us forward and reminds us of the past. So what happens when an influence such as fashion is produced recklessly? Reckless fashion limits our potential as society and further digs us into complacency.
During Copenhagen Fashion Week earlier this year, many new and creative looks were showcased that spoke to why fashion is such an important creative outlet. However this sentiment was stopped short during the Ganni Fashion Show which showcased different pictures of working women in developing countries as a backdrop to the expense of their own clothing.
This act of recklessness forces us to ask the question of where to draw the line between what is considered art, and what is considered an unregenerate act to social change. If the clothes were inspired by the women's clothing- which Ganni later told Refinery29 that the show itself was supposedly inspired by them- or if Ganni had voiced a call to action about working conditions, they would have showed a constructive message.
The problem here is not simply that Ganni is not “woke”, which many influencers made an effort to point out, but that in using these images, the brand took a certain lifestyle as an aesthetic rather than a way to tell stories. This is more than exploitation, this creates complacency.
When accurate depictions of our world are not portrayed, people continue to perpetuate false narratives and ignore blatant inequalities. cULTRA believes that with an influence and a platform such as the one that fashion provides, it is the industry’s duty to be martyrs of change and bring attention to issues that matter. It is not enough to say that a brand “did not think about the consequences” or “are neutral”; with our globalized world today, there is no such thing as being neutral, and not thinking about the effect of a decision shows dangerous apathy.
This means skipping the rose-tinted slide show that shows smiling women enjoying their hard labor with unfair pay just for an aesthetic. This means calling attention to these women and empowering them by showing their stories, respecting their stories, and learning from them. This means spreading the aesthetic of awareness.