An Italian fashion label has attracted criticism from around the world after releasing a new collection taking inspiration from a historical period of empire-building associated with slavery and genocide.
Big Uncle, a Milan-based clothing firm for men, denies endorsing "a historical bloody period full of atrocities", but describes its new "Colonial Deal" range as a "short and intense journey in the West [sic] former colonies in order to understand the Colonialism style", adding "[some of] the linen is rough like the faces consumed by the sun". Among the items in the range is a jumper emblazoned with the word "colonialism".
Mireille Harper launched a petition demanding the line be axed after encountering it online which has gathered hundreds of signatures from around the world.
“Whether Big Uncle’s views are misguided or downright racist, I cannot argue, however they appear to have a complete lack of understanding for people of colour who continue to live with the intergenerational trauma that lingers today in all pockets of society, particularly in their own country of origin, Italy, where racism, prejudice and discriminatory behaviour continues, with the most recent migrant shooting in Macerata being a stark reminder of this.”
Colonialism is defined as a country or government taking a land by political or military force, then exploiting its resources, manpower and wealth.
Ms Harper's campaign has received support from more than 500 people.
A Big Uncle spokesman defended the collection, claiming it was not glorifying the bloodshed and cultural hegemony of imperialism but celebrating the ‘XIX century’s clothing style’. He added writing colonialism on a T-shirt did not mean to celebrate the historical period, but was intended to get people to reflect on it.
Marc Jacobs was accused of cultural appropriation following its use of dreadlocks at its Spring 2017 show in New York.
H&M was also forced to issue an apology after it released an advert depicting a black child wearing a monkey jumper.