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image: Gucci
image: Gucci

Now that the dust has settled on the baby dragons and severed heads that models carried in the Gucci show this week, the Italian design house is coming under fire, something that is becoming rather commonplace (usually in connection with claims of copying). The Kering-owned brand is on the hook – this time around – for using Sikh turbans as “fashion accessories,” and thereby, as some are arguing, disrespecting an item that is central to the Sikh identity. Twitter users, led by Sikh social activist and restaurateur Harjinder Singh Kukreja, have been debating Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele’s choice to include the turbans in his Fall/Winter 2018 collection, especially on white models. 

A tweet posted on Thursday by Singh Kukreja read, “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 practicing Sikhs tie them neatly fold-by-fold.” Kukreja continued on to note that “using fake Sikhs/Turbans is worse than selling fake Gucci products.”

The Indian Express echoed this notion, stating that as many religions and cultures across the world have distinct characteristics, “the turban for the Sikh culture” is a “customary symbol that has become [part of] their identity over the years.” It is a symbol, according to the publication’s columnist Avantika Chopra, that Sikhs are “often protective and sensitive about.”

No shortage of individual sided with Singh Kukreja in his distaste for the Gucci accessories. For instance, one Twitter user stated, “Gucci is appropriating [the turban] for no reason other than to get some buzz for their business.” 

Others, however, were not as put off. One Twitter user wrote in response to Singh Kukreja’s tweet, “I think its positive and creates awareness. They’re wearing them in a respectful way.” Another stated, “They are promoting wearing turbans. There is no vulgarity in their costume to disrespect the turban. We need to add on to the fashion statement with the values and reason that goes with the custom of wearing it.” 

Unsurprisingly, Gucci’s use of the turbans – which are worn as a headgear by many men and women in various countries, including non-Sikhs, as noted by a number of Twitter users – as a fashion accessory has been met with mixed opinions.