Hey Look, Another Racist Fashion Spread!

Hey Look, Another Racist Fashion Spread!

Fashion is often inspired by other cultures. Cries of cultural appropriation are sometimes overblown, sometimes not. But at a time where asian actors are trying to gain equal pay while dismissing ongoing racist caricatures, along comes photographer Billy Kidd in an advertorial for Chanel in Interview Magazine.

  • Yes, some asians wear straw hats while farming
  • Yes, some asians use a carrying pole.

But in New York City:

The images are not “cool” or “awesome.” They play upon outdated racist stereotypes that view asians as straw hat wearing peasants in the name of fashion. 

What is gained by such a shallow depiction?


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This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

There are 5 comments for this article
  1. Blue at 3:19 pm

    Spot on, Allen.
    All data pertaining to the buying decision-making of consumers show that visuals is the leading factor.
    Sadly, some advertisers have no qualms pulling at the strings of racism, mysoginy or homophobia to sell their wares.
    Imaging professionals – photographers foremost – should therefore adhere to stronger professional standards.
    THIS photographers’ work , straight out of a colonial colouring book, diminishes the industry’s social empathy capital.
    Pretty shocking actually

  2. Linda at 10:49 am

    I am not saying I believe this. It’s not an area I ha e any real knowledge of. But might it raise awareness? I suspect the answer is “Yes. In the best of all possible worlds,” but “No I the real world.”

  3. Dré de Man at 7:19 am

    I really don’t get it. What if they used a Dutchman on wooden shoes and carrying a large wooden stick (meant to carry cheese) or something similar instead of it? I – being Dutch – wouldn’t be offended and neither would the rest of my country. Even more so, the Dutch association of Cheese makers uses images like that since ages to sell cheese in Germany. Fine with me.
    There is racism and there is the liberty to cite themes from different cultures and different ages and movies etc. for creative reasons. Displaying an Asian person with a straw hat and a carrying pole is not racism. If you continue to object to that soon you can’t even use Asian models in photography. Now that would mean you would be forced to be a racist to avoid being a racist. Chanel isn’t using this picture to be racistic. Channel just wants to sell bags and the like and not to racist people. And the model just wants to make money being a model. (I would love to see more pictures of her in other campaigns btw.) Channel is not using some colonial stereotypic racistic images.
    Racism is real. But it is displayed by people who are really racistic, not a tiny bit you even have imagined, but really. If you want to fight racism which is important i.m.o., concentrate on them, not on people who just don’t display a culture like you want it to be displayed. What you’re doing now is fighting windmills like Don Quichotte. But probably I’m not allowed to use that imagery in your opinion because it’s racism with regards to the Spanish culture 🙂

  4. Ben at 1:53 am

    I would love to discuss this issue with the author of the article. I think you do great work and I would love to discuss further via email. Pls email me at the email address the site required of me to post if you are so inclined. Aloha.

  5. Nicolas at 8:09 am

    For this kind of shots, all is in the eyes of the viewer. You can choose to be offended, but that would be you. It doesn’t mean the model, the photographer or channel are in any way racist.

    The racist view is fully in the interpretation that of course all asians do this or that, or don’t. They are supposedly poor, never would wear like the model on the photo or use a stick to lift things… Hey people are free they do what they want and are tired of moralizing people that explain they shouldn’t do this or that for some reason.

    The asian people I know tend to be engineers in the same company as myself, owner of shops in the town and I guess have the same kind of job as anybody else. And honestly, I don’t see why it should be otherwise ?

    So what? Again this is in the eyes of viewer.

    If you are to fight racism seriously rather than trying to get more clicks on an article, there other ways to do it.

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