Cultural appropriation in contemporary fashion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background With globalization, cultural appropriation issues are beginning to emerge. Especially, there have been diverse conflicts about cultural appropriation in the fashion industry. The purpose of this research is to investigate controversial issues of cultural appropriation in the field of fashion and to clarify their meanings through the analysis of many cases regarding cultural appropriation in contemporary fashion. Methods First, this paper reviewed culture theorists' opinions and discussions in order to set the analytical framework for actual cases. Second, it was essential to collect various magazines' news stories that dealt with cultural appropriation in fashion since 2001. Based on earlier studies and collected articles, this study intended to define and interpreted the diverse arguments surrounding cultural appropriation in fashion design. Results According to the case study, there are three major types of cultural appropriation in fashion design. The first type is the appropriation of religious icons of indigenous communities. The second type is the appropriation of traditional expressions. The third type is the mass consumption of indigenous expressions as fashion trends. In terms of other case studies on fashion media images, cultural appropriation can be divided into two classes: cultural appropriation by whitewashing and cultural appropriation by unreasonable expressions. Judging from the many aspects of cultural appropriation, the major critical issues are stereotypical standardization and mockery, wrong reinterpretation and distortion, and consumption and looting. Conclusions The people of the fashion industry should newly recognize and change the social awareness in cultures. In many cases of fashion expression, what could be widely allowed in the past might be no longer popularly justified in the view of cultural appropriation. The awareness of contemporary change in cultural appropriation and a deeper understanding of its controversial issues can be realized in the sustainable development of the fashion industry.

Original languageKorean
Pages (from-to)137-150
Number of pages14
JournalArchives of Design Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Korean Society of Design Science.


  • Cultural appropriation
  • Fashion controversies
  • Traditional cultural expressions

Cite this