Celebrate America’s Diversity with Gap’s New Summer Ad

In Gap’s new summer ad, they used real people from the streets to model their summer clothing line. Gap continues its approach to multicultural youth in the US by creating ads that are relatable to the changing face of America and the way we consume advertisements. “I am Gap” also is also set as a vertical video frame to emulate the way consumers are creating social content on Instagram and Snapchat.

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These Women Sought Inclusion at Lakmé Fashion Week

Women may come in all different shapes and sizes, but it’s safe to say the fashion and media worlds have barely scratched the surface in terms of representing such diverse ladies. So when Reliance Industries launched their online clothing portal AJIO at Lakmé Fashion Week, they chose some inspiring showstoppers to prove that fashion isn’t just exclusive to a cookie-cutter type of woman.
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Bethann Hardison Speaks Out At Fashion Week

As New York Fashion Week 2015 starts to wrap, Bethann Hardison, renowned fashion activist and former model, hosted an intimate gathering to speak at “The Future of Fashion Talk Series,” sponsored by HQ Events. Considered to be an authority when it comes to diversity within the fashion industry, Hardison shared her thoughts with everyone in attendance.

“There’s this moment happening in our culture where the power of the audience and the influence that people of color have is undeniable at this point,” said Welteroth. “And so therefore from what I see, people of color are being called on in a different way. We’re being heard in a different way — louder. And I think it’s such an exciting time. The power structure is being redefined and we’re refining beauty with the stories that we’re telling and the women we’re showing on our covers. Is there more work to be done? Absolutely. 100 percent. But I think we should celebrate where we’ve come from.”

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Timberland Ends Collaboration with A.P.C

Timberland’s president Stewart Whitney recently announced that the company will no longer be collaborating with fashion brand A.P.C.  The decision was in response to racist remarks made by Jean Touitou during his A.P.C fashion show in Paris

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Looking At The YG x RVCA Collab

RVCA is one of the leading lifestyle clothing brands out in the market today. They specialize in board-sports with the beach, surfing, and skateboarding being a huge part of their identity.  In attempt to expand their niche and brand, they teamed up with Compton native, YG.

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Fashion Magazine Covers Still Lack Racial Diversity

Forty four major print publications were analyzed and white models appeared on covers 567 times, while nonwhite models only made 119 appearances. Interesting to note that Vogue Japan displayed three models of color on this year’s covers. Only one of the magazine’s cover models was of Japanese descent, and Vogue Korea featured four nonwhite models out of its 13 total cover models. Click here to read more.

Stripping Down to Reveal True Style

The What’s Underneath Project, developed by multimedia platform Stylelikeu takes a unique approach to show that style is deeper than the clothes you wear. Set in a 1-on-1 interview format, the series highlights different people from different backgrounds as they share their unique style and what makes them unique. The striking aspect? These people strip off their clothes as the interview progresses, leaving them sitting only in their underwear at the end.

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Study says Barbie is stunting girls’ career aspirations

Say what you will about the size of her waist, but Barbie is one of the most professionally accomplished toys in existence. Since her debut in 1959, Mattel’s ubiquitous doll has tried her hand at more than 130 careers, from ballerina to astronaut to zoologist.

But is Barbie’s resume inspiring the next generation of real girls to attempt similarly diverse careers? It doesn’t look like it. A new study published in the journal Sex Roles that suggests playing with Barbies can actually stunt little girls’ career aspirations.

It looks like feminists were right all along: Barbie is bad for girls, regardless of the uniform she’s wearing.

The study, conducted by the psychology lab at Oregon State University, gave girls ages 4 to 7 one of three dolls to play with: Barbie dressed as a fashion model (which was, in fact, her original incarnation), Barbie dressed as a doctor, or Mrs. Potato Head. Those who played with either of the Barbies later viewed themselves as having fewer career options than boys do, and espoused a preference for more “pink collar” jobs like teacher or flight attendant. Those who played with Mrs. Potato Head, on the other hand, were able to envision themselves in more varied — and less gendernormative — roles, like firefighter or pilot.

When drawing attention to these types of studies, the goal is not in any way to disparage traditionally feminine roles, which have long been undervalued and under-payed by a society that continues to place a premium on masculinity. Rather, this is about recognizing the limiting effect that playing with heavily gendered toys can have on children’s ultimate ambitions. Of course little girls can — and absolutely should — dream of becoming teachers, librarians and nurses. But they also should know that they are not beholden to these careers by virtue of their gender any more than the boys are.

So where does that leave us? The study concludes that it may actually be the image of Barbie herself that hems in career imagination; Barbie is one of the only toys marketed to little girls that has a mature female body, and was modeled after the German post-war, erotic doll Bild Lilli. Being confronted with her impossibly tiny waist, big boobs and long legs conveys “a sexualized adult world to young girls” that can unintentionally limit their imagination about their future professions.

Mrs. Potato Head obviously isn’t an accurate representation of the average female body type either (because, well… she’s a potato), but apparently even a root vegetable with detachable facial features sends a better message to little girls than do Barbie’s unrealistic curves.

It’s important to note this trend isn’t new. Barbie’s figure has been a source of controversy for years. One recent study showed that girls who play with skinny dolls may eat less afterwards, and Sports Illustrated turned the kids’ toy into a very adult sex object for its 50th anniversarySwimsuit Edition in February.

This really is a shame — as the former owner of at least 13 different Barbies, I can attest to the fact that playing with them can be a lot of fun. Companies are starting to discover the market for empowering toys, with dolls like the more realistically-proportioned Lammily potentially hitting shelves soon. But as long as Barbie maintains her sexualized silhouette, Mattel’s efforts to pass her off as a role model may always fall flat.

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Heidi Klum’s redface photo shoot is a massive insult to Native Americans

Back in January, designer Walter Van Beirendonck sent a model down the runway wearing a comically large headdress with the words “stop racism” scrawled across it. It was a potent and powerful message, a message that apparently Heidi Klum didn’t get. In a continuation of fashion’s backward practice of cultural appropriation, Klum had contestants on Germany’s Next Top Model travel to Utah and pose as sexy indigenous people. What?

In this latest iteration of fashion’s ongoing cultural faux pas, the models posed in headdresses, blankets and face paint, some holding peace pipes and spears. The photos were later shared in a photo set on Facebook and described, in a supreme case of tone-deafness, as “Endlose Weite und einsame Wildnis – meine Girls beim Shooting in Utah” (“Endless length and lonely wilderness – my girls during the shoot in Utah”). Think Progress deservedly put the media microscope on the images yesterday.

Unfortunately, the sight of models in “red face” is a frequent occurrence. From headdresses on Victoria’s Secret runways to the recalled “hipster headdresses” at H&M, the fashion industry somehow hasn’t caught on to the fact that this is downright offensive cultural appropriation, no matter how often and how impassioned the online masses call them on it.

Indigenous people have long been stereotyped as serene and romantic token images, a practice obviously still perpetuated in fashion and pop culture and brought frequently to dreamy photo shoots. Even as Native, activist and feminist voices consistently explain why it’s wrong the internet continues to be forced into a position of ethical counterweight as big fashion business repeatedly opts for appropriation.

The outcry against Klum’s latest has been uniform and entirely legitimate. Writing at Last Real Indians, Ruth Hopkins, a self-proclaimed fan of Heidi Klum’s show Project Runway since episode one, summed up the both the broad Native response to the shoot:

“As a Native woman, I’m tired of being bombarded with negative, false imagery of who society thinks I am. For once I’d like to enjoy a fashion show, a music video, a football game or a photo spread without being singled out because of my race. It’s not just offensive, it’s discriminatory and just plain rude.”

So far, two weeks since sharing these photos, Klum has not issued any apology or statement.

It’s high time the fashion world opened their eyes, put away the offensive regalia and listened to the masses. We’re right.

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‘B-Stylers’ Are Japanese Teens Who Want To Be Black

Dutch photographer Desiré van den Berg has spent the past seven months traveling around Asia. She lives in Hong Kong at the moment, but when she was in Tokyo, back in December 2013, she met Hina, a 23-year-old who works at a trendy Tokyo boutique called Baby Shoop. Hina’s shop has the tagline “Black for Life.” She describes its products as “a tribute to Black culture: the music, the fashion, and style of dance.”

Hina’s appearance is also loyal to what the Japanese call “B-style”—a contraction of the words “Black” and “Lifestyle” that refers to a subculture of young Japanese people who love American hip-hop culture so much that they do everything in their power to look as African American as possible.

I called up Desiré to find out more about her time photographing Hina and her gang.

VICE: How did you meet Hina?
Desiré van den Berg:
 She appeared in a documentary about B-style a couple of years back, which I happened to watch. This is what got me interested in the culture. It took a lot of effort, but I eventually got in touch with her on Facebook, through other B-stylers. I said I wanted to take photos of her, and she actually thought that was pretty cool. It was all a bit of a hassle, though, because Hina and the other B-stylers didn’t speak a single word of English. We needed a translator both to make an appointment and at the actual first meeting, too.

How does that work in terms of translating rap lyrics?
Hina speaks some English but not fluently. She does like to use some English slang when she speaks Japanese with her B-style friends, like finishing a sentence with “man” or using bad words like “motherfucker” jokingly.

I know Japan is full of weird subcultures, but how do you explain this one?
There are things like the Harajuku Girls, which I guess are rather normal but some are complete excesses. B-style is the sort of thing you would find on wtfjapanseriously.com. Hina often goes to New York, and she idolizes America. Japanese TV is full of American films and commercials and that must be a reason, too. She sees America as a kind of promised land.

Is B-style big in Japan?
No. It’s pretty small; you don’t really see it on the streets. You really have to look for it. According to Hina, it was bigger a couple of years ago—now there are only a few die-hards left in each city. It’s definitely not mainstream, and maybe still to small to even call it a subculture.

What do B-stylers like Hina mainly do?
Hina, for example, visits a tanning salon every week to darken her skin. I was surprised these tanning salons even exist, because in Japan it is a classic beauty ideal to have your skin be as pale as possible.

Just to be clear: Hina is 100 percent Japanese and naturally has pale skin. She is only dark because of the sunbed and the use of really dark foundation. B-stylers also listen to hip-hop, and visit special African hair salons to get braids or curly hair. These salons are usually found in Tokyo’s ghettos and are run by small African communities. Hina wears colored contact lenses: they are a lighter shade of brown to make her eyes seem bigger.

Do B-stylers get together, or does it mainly exist online?
There are special B-style events where primarily Japanese youth breakdance and dance to hip-hop and R&B. Even though the event attracts mostly Japanese people, you hear a lot of typical slang. I went to one of those events and had the feeling that all of a sudden everything had come together. I got the sense that it’s a bigger group than I’d imagined.

Are there people who believe this to be inappropriate?
Apparently not in Japan, but in most comments underneath videos on YouTube you see fierce reactions. Many seem to feel the Afro-American typecasting is all wrong. Hina and other B-stylers are not really aware of this.

And what do B-stylers’ families think of their lifestyles?
When I was in Japan I realized that it’s considered really impolite to stare. You see the weirdest people on the streets, but no one stares, not like the way they can in the Netherlands, where I’m from. It’s easier for people to be who they want to be. Hina’s parents are fine with it. Her mom sees it as a phase that will pass. Even though many Japanese feel right at home in the mass, it is still a land of extremes, which manage to coexist rather well.

You can see more of Desiré’s work here.

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