Why The 'White Designers Appropriating African Fashion Debate' Is Old News

Stella McCartney 2017

By Mwabi Kaira

The internet exploded this week with news that fashion designer Stella McCartney’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection featured African prints.  Everyone took to hash tagging cultural appropriation and voiced their outrage all over social media that a designer could show white women wearing our designs.  I’m an African woman by way of Zambia and Malawi and my first thought was not outrage, it was confusion.  I wondered where these outraged folks had been because this is nothing new and has been seen on runways for decades.  And, as far as the models, girl, where have you been? What fashion week shows by non-black designers have you seen more than a few black models rip the runway?  I had to conclude that folks just haven’t been paying attention.  

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