As the weather starts to warm up in Austin, I’m starting to notice a very interesting new fashion trend. There seems to be more and more people wearing clothing items that resemble traditional Mexican clothing. I have seen a handful of people wearing shirts with Mexican-style embroidery and even seen a few people wearing ponchos and huaraches. I started wondering if someone had raided my grandparents' closet!
This fashion trend really surprised me for a couple of reasons. First of all attitudes towards immigrants in this country, particularly Latino immigrants are not very friendly right now. The ongoing immigration reform has only proved that racism against Latinos is still very much alive. So why would people want to dress like the very people they want to keep out of the country?
Then when I was doing weekly online "window" shopping I noticed how many clothing websites were promoting these Mexican-inspired clothing pieces. However they used words like “tribal” or “southwestern” to describe the clothing pieces, they were never explicitly labeled Mexican, Latin or even Native American. I realized a lot of people probably didn’t even realize what they were buying, and as long as it was considered “in” it needed to be worn.
There were some pieces of clothing that I came across that I admit were really cute, but some just really angered me. One of these items was a pair of shorts being sold online at Forever 21. These “Serape Pattern Shorts” honestly looked as it someone had justnonchalantly cut up a Mexican serape and created some tiny shorts. To me this is ignorance and disrespect on behalf of Forever 21. If they had really planned to pay homage to Mexican culture through clothing, it doesn’t have to be in this way.
I want to believe this clothing trend is a way to honor Mexican traditions, but I know for most consumers it's probably not. When people put on these Mexican-inspired clothing pieces they may be acknowledging all the fun, bright and beautiful parts of Mexican culture, but what are they forgetting? When people purchase clothing pieces that resemble serapes, huipils, or huaraches are they remembering the struggles of the people for whom these pieces of clothing are not costume but tradition. Purchasing these items from huge companies like Forever 21 allows consumers to forget the background of these clothing pieces, it’s a completely different experience from purchasing the clothing from an authentic Mexican marketplace. It's important to note that this clothing is Mexican-inspired not actually Mexican.
While it’s pretty amazing to see traces of Mexican culture becoming more prevalent in everyday life, there needs to be a clear distinction between what can be considered offensive and what can be considered respectful. There should be a fine line between what is authentic and what is costume. Minorities are already ridiculed enough in politics and the media, fashion doesn’t need to be another form of disrespect. If minorities like Latinos and Native Americans can be considered fashionable why can’t we also be considered equal?
Check out some of the clothing items I found online below. What are your thoughts on Mexican-inspired fashion, is it fashionable or disrespectful?
Serape Pattern Shorts $12.80 (Forever 21) Dress $48 (Urban Outfitters)
Top $145 (DKNY) Crazy For Love Dress $168 (Free People)
Leather Bow- Accented Huaraches $29.80 (Forever 21) Converse Huipil (sold out by the way!)