The internet was set ablaze with criticism on Monday, when fashion label Dsquared2 showcased their Fall/Winter line of women’s clothing in Milan, Italy.

In a horrible attempt at word-play, the twin-brother fashion designer duo dubbed their collection, “Dsquaw.”

The use of such an ugly word in an attempt at the kind of humour that is supposed to be edgy but often ends up exploding in people’s faces, hence the instant backlash online.

As a result, the company removed #Dsquaw hashtags from their Instagram page (but can still be seen on Tweets posted to the @Dsquared2 feed.)

The collection was described as a melding of “the enchantment of Canadian Indian tribes” with the “confident attitude of the British aristocracy.”

I’m not sure what is so enchanting about cultural genocide and the blatant appropriation of Indigenous culture. It’s not a surprise that the line was introduced in Italy, as Western Europe has a long history of imperialism and colonialism — one that cannot be described as the “confident attitude” of any Western imperialism “aristocracy.” That confidence is actually the arrogance of cultural superiority.

Yes, I understand that someone people believe that any publicity is good publicity, but there are also times when an obvious line has been crossed.  

That said, this controversy led to people checking out the actual designs for the collection, and calling the designers out not only for their unfunny play on words but also the cultural appropriation behind some of the patterns and designs.

It seems that culturally-appropriate regalia, in the eyes of Dean and Dan Caten, amounts to nothing but strips of fur sewn to a South-Western style motif cloth — giving the impression they came up with the design structure of the pattern out of thin air instead of giving credit to the Nations who developed this very stylized form of art.

@MelissaA1763 tweets: “Hey @Dsquared2, do you (and everyone using this hashtag) have any idea how offensive you’re being with #dsquaw? Plus, #CulturalAppropriation

@rabbitchoker tweets: Apparently it’s not only ok to #steal designs, appropriate on someone’s #culture, but also to insult by using word #dsquaw #DontTrendOnMe

Photo: Instagram/@dsquared2

Krystalline Kraus

krystalline kraus is an intrepid explorer and reporter from Toronto, Canada. A veteran activist and journalist for rabble.ca, she needs no aviator goggles, gas mask or red cape but proceeds fearlessly...