A $1,325 Chanel-labeled boomerang is absurd for many reasons, but the one being tossed around social media the most is the fact that the luxury fashion brand is appropriating Australian Aboriginal culture.
According to Mic, Chanel has been selling different variations of the boomerang since 2004 and recently released its latest spring-summer 2017 pre-collection wood & resin black edition. A photo of Chanel’s version of the traditional hunting weapon was shared by famed makeup artist Jeffree Star on Instagram.
Star’s post received more than 170,000 likes and nearly 6,000 comments, with many of the responses calling Chanel out for exploiting indigenous Australian culture.
One of the product’s critics is Aboriginal activist Nayuka Gorrie who slammed the boomerang in a series of tweets.
In an interview with The Guardian Australia, Gorrie said Chanel’s rendition of the artifact is “so wrong it is almost absurd.”
"Having a luxury brand swoop in, appropriate, sell our technologies and profit from our cultures for an absurd amount of money is ridiculous and hurtful," she said. "If Chanel truly wants to respect Aboriginal cultures, the first place they should start is discontinue this product and issue an apology. Perhaps the next step would be supporting existing black designers."
Following the backlash, Chanel issued a half-hearted apology: “Chanel is extremely committed to respecting all cultures and deeply regrets that some may have felt offended.”
Although there is a fine line between cultural appropriation and appreciation, Gorrie’s explanation hit the nail right on the head. These historical relics have meaning and are treasured by the Aboriginal cultures, yet they are being exploited by Chanel, which slapped its logo and some shiny paint on them and proceeded to sell them to the masses for an insane amount of money.
They essentially stripped away all cultural implications of the boomerang and inadvertently sent the message that it's only of great value because their name is on it.
The fashion industry really needs to get a better handle on how to respectfully pay homage to the rich and unique cultures our world is made of.