I was on my way to work this morning listening to a local radio station, The Breakfast Show on Afro FM when I heard about a petition that began 2 days ago, raising awareness about Urban Outfitters appropriating cultural and traditional clothing and designs from Ethiopia and Eritrea. The petition by Lolla has a picture of the dress in question “Vintage ’90 Linen Dress” and it is evident that the material, design, and fabric is actually not vintage and not linen but a design and fabric taken from our Ethiopian and Eritrean culture. When I saw this I was shocked and outraged- how can they take our cultural attire and make it just some sundress, they did not even give us credit.
As almost all Ethiopian and Eritrean women, I have a similar dress and so does my grandma, my mom and my all aunts. The pattern, thick stripe of colored fabric at the hem is what we call telet (in Amharic) and every other part of the dress’ design from the waistline, sleeves, fabric, is exactly what our traditional dress (hager lebs in Amharic) looks like.
As you can see from the images above that I found on Makeda_Loveee’s instagram , the company Urban Outfitters has labeled the dress on the left as a “Vintage ’90 Linen Dress” and they are selling it on their website for $209. On the right is Makeda_Loveee, an Ethiopian girl wearing her mother’s dress that is years old and straight from Ethiopia. It is clear as day that this company has lifted from our cultures – cultures with rich traditions, cultures which take pride in our traditional style of dress – and appropriated them as its own. Please go sign the petition to stop urban outfitters appropriating traditional cultural designs from Ethiopia and Eritrea and so that they give full credit to the Ethiopian and Eritrean cultures.
Click here to go sign on the PETITION.
You can also show your support on the facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Urban-Outfitters-Committing-Cultural-Theft/507443982626667?ref=stream