Friday, October 28, 2011


Here's one of those fashion moments that I can't let pass without a little racial commentary. Fashion has always had a somewhat tenuous relationship with people of color. Women of color are seen as exotic oddities (or overlooked), our icons are seen as commodities and our culture is often ripped apart in the name of fashion. With all that, it's little wonder that I cringed a bit when seeing the news of Billabong's new Bob Marley collection (I'm not even going to comment on the "Rasta Monsta" title of NYLON's article about it).

I went to boarding school and your typical, New England liberal college so the commodification of Bob Marley is in no way new to me. If I had a dollar for every White person I've seen sing along to "One Love" and "Redemption Song", I wouldn't be a part of the 99%. But it's not so much that I resent White people's love of Marley, it's rather than it's become some sort of status symbol or easy emblem to display and show how "down" you are. And with a major company like Billabong releasing an entire line of items, it just seem like another way to easily cash in and be cool. 

The items are exactly what you'd expect. Bikinis and shorts in Rastafarian colors, Marley's album covers reprinted on t-shirts and hoodies. Nothing here is really fashion forward or interesting. The most interesting graphic is on this red tee: 

I'm not calling for a strike of Billabong or anything but there's an element of objectification that makes me squirm at this. What statement are you truly making when you wear these items? Do you believe in one love? Are you Rastafarian? Do you just think it looks cool? And who's profitting from the sale of these clothes? I think fashion is a statement from head to toe. What are you trying to say? 

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