Cultural Appropriation: It aint my bag baby.

Last night I was made aware of post on a babywearing group. SUPU’s latest Woven Wrap design (currently named 'Zig Zag') due for release early next year was being questioned for the possibility of it being culturally appropriated.  Initially, I was surprised at the claims and fearful in light of all the recent discussions that have revolved around this important topic.  However, I quickly reminded myself that I have nothing to hide: this is 100% my design and I stand by it.  Here is a sneaky peak into my creative inspiration for this woven wrap design.  Never meant to be shown, but here it is, a glimpse at my workbook smash-up.

The above images show the content of my mood board and relevant inspiration for this design. Zig Zags, diamonds and triangles were a common occuring theme. Those who followed me right at the start may remember the grey, pink and purple image when I first proposed designs to the group. It then became apparent that this would not work as a woven wrap as the design would not be seen in full. I decided to shrink, flip and repeat the pattern to display the design more effectively when wrapped. Voila, 'Zig Zag' was born. 

As a New Zealander, I am fully aware of cultural appropriation issues. Although not of Maori heritage myself, the issues around cultural appropriation are surfaced frequently back home. Consequently, I also feel strongly about this issue and the negative effects that cultural appropriation can have on minority communities and cultures. I am also a textile designer by trade and so I personally understand the significance of maintaining originality through my own design. Probably the most obvious point here though is this: I love textiles, I love the creative process, I love designing.

Steal a design? There is no love in that.

Cultural appropriation is wrong on many levels. This point cannot be argued. However, by using ‘cultural appropriation’ incorrectly and frequently we could undermine this extremely important topic. We should be able to discuss cultural appropriation, however, we should give designers the benefit of the doubt. If unsure we could always contact the company directly first to hear their side. The brand damage that can be caused by incorrect comments on a public platform can be huge regardless of intention.  

I have been excited to start a blog, but I intended my first post to be on a slightly lighter topic.  But hey ho, starting a business isn’t all puppies and butterflies. Maybe ask me if it is exciting, thought provoking and a massive learning experience, and the answer would definitely be YES!  I am finding strength where I never knew I would and I feel more love for the baby wearing cause than I ever thought possible.

Thanks for your continued support. Peace out homies!!!

Much Love,

Jess X


*****Edit to Post*****

Because I have had some interest in this design recently, I thought I would update this post. Shortly after this post was written, I made the decision to pull this design from manufacture and so it is not available for sale. I made the decision not to continue with this wrap release out of respect for everyone who raised comments. I have left this blog post unamended as I feel it is a part of SUPU's history and a learning experience that I value immensely. 

Jess X