Italian fashion house Gucci came under fire over its latest fashion show where it featured white models wearing Sikh turbans, a religious headgear used by the 27 million-strong community, with many saying that the show was insensitive and disrespectful.
Canadian actor and model Avan Jogia seem to have started the criticism against Gucci tweeting earlier Wednesday: “Yo.. @gucci ... I mess with you guys... but this isn't a good look for you... could you not find a brown model?” along with an image from the show of a white male model wearing a blue turban.
People began to share and engage with Jogia's tweet saying the brand was disrespectful and ignores the history and culture behind the Sikh turban, while other shared stories of how their religious headgear resulted in discrimination and bullying at schools and workplaces.
In a tweet shared by 1,500 people, India-based restaurateur and philanthropist Harjinder Singh Kukreja said: "Dear @gucci, the Sikh Turban is not a hot new accessory for white models but an article of faith for practising Sikhs. Your models have used Turbans as 'hats' whereas practising Sikhs tie them neatly fold-by-fold. Using fake Sikhs/Turbans is worse than selling fake Gucci products."
The backlash continued through Friday when with the New York-based Sikh Coalition civil rights group tweeting: "The Sikh turban is a sacred article of faith, @gucci, not a mere fashion accessory. #appropriation. We are available for further education and consultation if you are looking for observant Sikh models."
Since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S., Sikh communities in Western countries have frequently been the targets of racist attacks they are mistaken for Muslims and receive islamophobic and xenophobic language at them.
Critics shared a recent story of an Indian Sikh man attacked by a man who tried to to rip off his turban and said "Muslim go back home" while waiting at the British parliament in London to meet Labour Party lawmaker Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Wednesday, a day after the Gucci show.
"While Gucci sends white models down the catwalk wearing turbans, a Sikh environmentalist has his turban ripped off outside parliament in a hate attack. As someone whose family has been on the receiving end of this sh** for decades, this is utterly depressing," Tina Daheley, a British broadcaster born to a Sikh family, said in a tweet.