Casting asylum-seekers in a fashion show to raise awareness as to how they could be a resource for host countries is a positive step. An Italian fashion show did just that in January and won a lot of praise for organizing the event.
But cashing in on the world’s biggest humanitarian emergency by introducing a clothing line featuring clothes based on offensive stereotypes is, without a doubt, morally reprehensible — even if a small portion of the reaped profits is donated to those sufferering from the crisis.
Remember when I said I had lots of rage to go around? It just got all used up. pic.twitter.com/ZwWLLljoex— Sami Shah (@samishah) March 21, 2016
“The Refuge Collection” is apparently a venture of an Ontario, Canada-based clothing company called Marvaan.
Ironically, the brand calls itself an ethically conscious, “socially focused” lifestyle brand on its official website. But, as everyone can see in the now-deleted Facebook post, the creators of the “vest and pants” surely lost their focus with this distasteful collection.
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This isn’t the first case of fashion-meets-politics gone wrong.
Last October, a Hungarian photographer Norbert Baksa published a photo editorial called “Der Migrant” featuring a model in racy clothes, posing as a refugee by a barbed fence.
Baksa defended the photoshoot claiming it was his way of drawing attention to the crisis — and his argument would have made sense in a parallel universe where actual refugees did not look like this:
More than a million migrants crossed into Europe through irregular means in 2015. Nearly 35,000 people arrived in the first two months of this year and, according to International Monetary Fund’s forecast, around 4 million more could reach the continent by the end of 2017.
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It is, as has been stated before, the worst international crisis the world has witnessed since WWII. Making light of it by picturing a model in “migrant poses” or even reaping a small percentage of profits by introducing a “refugee clothes collection” is disgusting, to say the least.