Little Mix's PrettyLittleThing collection is being accused of "cultural appropriation"
13 November 2019, 13:49 | Updated: 13 November 2019, 14:17
"You're actively contributing to the fetishization and cultural appropriation of Chinese culture."
Little Mix recently launched their collaboration with fashion brand PrettyLittleThing, and many of the pieces are already sold out. However, the collection is receiving backlash because of its obvious Asian aesthetic and because some of the items have been labelled as "oriental".
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The range, which includes clothing and accessories, is based on the qipao, a traditional silk dress that originated in China in the 17th century. In one image, Jade Thrilwall wears the crop top and skirt version of the qipao, while Perrie Edwards wears the dress version with a thigh-high slit.
The items are all in an "oriental print" and they also include bags, sandals and boots in the same fabric. However, in many places, it is now considered politically incorrect to use the word "oriental", which is the historical term for the East or East Asia. In 2016, President Barack Obama even banned the use of the term from being used in federal laws and documents. However, in the UK, it is not considered to be an offensive term and is still used by the British police.
Although some of the pieces have proved popular, the items have been accused of "fetishising Asian women" and "reducing Chinese culture down to exoticism". People are particularly offended that the brand have "sexualised" traditional wear to adhere to their aesthetic because the sexualisation of Asian women has occurred throughout history.
And because none of the girls have ever expressed that they are of Chinese or even East Asian descent, some are offended by the collection.
So I saw a poster for this in the tube and I'm not entirely sure how to feel about this? I feel like there's so many things wrong with this? Exoticism, cultural appropriation, use of the word oriental...? Or is it just Fashion now? @LittleMix @OfficialPLT #culturalappropriation pic.twitter.com/JezTCq0Fv6— JeremyAngJones (@JeremyAngJones) November 7, 2019
@OfficialPLT @LittleMix I’m sorry but what?? first of all your “oriental” clothing is nothing like that of actual traditional Qi paos, but the fact that you’re actively contributing to the fetishization and cultural appropriation of Chinese culture is just... not ok. pic.twitter.com/wpiTzokSA4— hot and clammy 🦵🏼 (@laurenbakerm) November 7, 2019
is it just me or little mix’s collection with pretty little thing involved a bit of cultural appropriation...— atha♡ (@athabettrice) November 7, 2019
this is cultural appropriation. pic.twitter.com/SfNq6zn7sL— ig: @safehaven.activists (@safehaventweets) November 5, 2019
this fashion line borrows the mandarin collar and silk embroidery for its staple pieces of the line. it's ironic that @littlemix has built an image of empowerment of women when they are directly contributing to the fetishization and cultural appropriation of asian culture! pic.twitter.com/xnuLftECyk— janet nguyen (@mschfmnged6) November 8, 2019
I feel like many people don’t really understand why outfits like these are wrong. First of all, not only is this cultural appropriation but the hyper-sexualization of “asian-inspired” clothing is rooted in the fetishization of Asian women. (1/3)— tuquynh 💌 (@tuquynhnn) November 10, 2019
The @LittleMix and @OfficialPLT collab includes egregious and tone deaf cultural appropriation of the Chinese qipao. Don't sex up my culture because you want to "stand out" or make it "trendy". Not to mention its a clapped waste of textiles, disgusting.— Emma Kent (@EmmaKent10) November 8, 2019
i’m offended by cultural appropriation jesus christ little mix should stop its disgusting https://t.co/vx53LpIxRS— haely (@yilngIaozu) November 13, 2019
thank chinese culture for making this. it’s cultural appropriation— s (@sophsemm) November 8, 2019
Little Mix’s PLT collection bangs. Asides from the cultural appropriation part we don’t support that. But the rest bangs— Bene (@BeneeBoateng) November 8, 2019
So far, neither Little Mix nor the brand have publicly responded to the backlash.