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Comme des Garçons accused of cultural appropriation over cornrow wigs

Japanese fashion brand Comme des Garçons is under fire for the way it styled its models’ hair at its Fall/Winter 2020 menswear show at Paris Fashion Week on Friday. The models appeared to be wearing wigs that looked like cornrows, a protective hairstyle for natural and textured hair.Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Comme des Garçons is facing backlash after sending models down the runway wearing wigs styled to look like cornrows.

The Japanese fashion label held its Fall/Winter 2020 menswear show at Paris Fashion Week on Friday, in which several models who were predominately white wore lace-front braided wigs, as reported by Essence.

A model walks the runway at Comme des Garçons’ Paris Fashion Week show on Friday.
Estrop/Getty Images

Cornrows are known to be a protective hairstyle for natural and textured hair.

The show also featured models of color, though critics of the fashion label’s show denounced the brand for styling white models with the cornrow wigs, alleging cultural appropriation.

Essence reported that Canadian fashion designer Tani Riches was one of the first to call out the brand’s styling on Twitter.

—TANI (@TANIRICHES) January 17, 2020

Several Twitter users shared their reactions to seeing the images from the Comme des Garçons show.

—hautelemess (@hautelemess) January 17, 2020—𝓈𝑜𝓁 (@hautemess222) January 18, 2020


Essence described the brand’s styling decision as a “step backward” in terms of inclusivity, citing the fact that in 2018, Comme des Garçons’ womens’ fashion show featured dark-skinned models for the first time in more than 20 years. According to ELLE, prior to 2018, the high-fashion label had not included an identifiably black model in its shows since 1994. 

The Japanese fashion label’s creative director and founder, Rei Kawakubo, is known for her avant-garde fashions. Kawakubo has designed red carpet-worthy looks for stars like Rihanna and Lady Gaga, and in 2017, her vision inspired the Met Gala theme: “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons.”

It’s far from the first time a fashion label has faced backlash and cultural appropriation accusations

Commes des Garçons’ Friday runway show is not the only time a fashion label has come under fire in recent years for problematic styling of models, or for launching clothes or brand names that lacked cultural sensitivity.

For example, in 2019, Burberry sent a model down the runway wearing a hooded sweatshirt with strings that resembled a noose. After Liz Kennedy, the model who wore the hoodie, criticized the garment in an Instagram post, Burberry apologized and pulled the sweatshirt from its collection.

This Feb. 17, 2019 photo shows a model wearing a creation by Burberry at the Autumn/Winter 2019 fashion week runway show in London.
Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

Also in 2019, Kim Kardashian West named her shapewear line Kimono Solutionwear and tried to trademark the word “kimono.” After facing cultural appropriation accusations, Kardashian West apologized and renamed the brand SKIMS.

Representatives for Comme des Garçons did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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