People are saying Free People's festivalwear is appropriating Native American culture
Free People, the women’s clothing retailer known for their breezy, boho-inspired clothing, recently crossed the line of cultural appropriation with their festival-themed collection. As The Frisky points out, the line features a slew of questionable offerings ranging from a $78 “medicine pouch” to a $248 feather headdress. Not only is the accessory mocking a sacred, spiritual item — it’s insanely expensive.
The retailer was called out by users on Twitter.
Over the years, “Native American-inspired” fashion has become popular, due in part to outdoor music festivals like Coachella. High-profile celebrities such as Gwen Stefani, Lana Del Rey and Harry Styles have all been photographed wearing headdresses, contributing to this problematic trend. In 2012, Victoria’s Secret sent model Karlie Kloss down the runway wearing a Native American-style headdress and promptly received backlash. Still, instances of cultural appropriation continue to be seen in fashion, as evidenced by the Free People collection.
This isn’t the first time Free People has been accused of cultural insensitivity. In 2014, they posted a dreadlocks tutorial on their blog, featuring no people of color. They were also criticized for hawking a $68 “cosmic stick” and other items in something called a “Spirituality Shop.”
Their sister brand, Urban Outfitters, is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with the Navajo Nation stemming from the sale of a “Navajo Hipster Panty” and other unauthorized items in 2012.