Race not the only issue in the chic world of fashion

Thango Ntwasa Lifestyle Digital Editor
Rapper Ricky Rick and Tommy Hilfiger.
Rapper Ricky Rick and Tommy Hilfiger.
Image: Supplied

For as long as it's been mainstream, hip hop music has notoriously been a big brag fest. From ballin' in the boldest bling to buying babes, hip hop knows no bounds in material acquisition. Even when it borders on objectification.

In 2011, Kanye West and Jay-Z decided it would be a good time to reflect on their own personal ascension with the award-winning Ni**as in Paris. The rap track, which also samples hip hop legend Notorious B.I.G, reflects on a moment in which they realised their position of influence in juxtaposition with their access to affluence in the city of love.

Something justified in the line if you escaped what I've escaped, you'd be in Paris getting f***ed up too.

I could not help but be reminded of this song when the news of Riky Rick meeting Tommy Hilfiger had many in a tizzy.

Riky shared on his Instagram that when his family uprooted to Austria in 1998, one of the cultural shifts was dressing up in casual clothes for school, which is not a norm this side of the equator.

With school kids in the latest designer threads, Riky begged his mother to update his wardrobe, and one of those designers was Tommy Hilfiger. This was not a possibility for her, which then birthed Riky's desire to work hard at becoming the SA fashion icon who works hard at expressing himself as he sees fit.

It was not too long before our dear misinformed members of society were quick to point out the racism of Tommy, an ancient form of fake news that even predates Mxit.

However, one issue remains, a burning question I can't quite find the answer to - if Tommy Hilfiger had blurted out racist rhetoric, would Riky Rick have dodged the photo op? Better yet, if Riky Rick was collaborating with the iconic label, would he have turned down the opportunity?

The fashion cycle works in a very simple yet hazardous manner that has been this way since the late 50s. It all starts with the designers who will note something that interests them in everyday wear and appropriate it for the runway and fashion magazines.

From east to Anna Wintour's west, each season's slay is curated to the elite masses who then buy the threads that can range from innovative to nostalgic. Once these elite crowds create a demand amongst the layman, retail stores pipe out fresh remakes of these trendy designs.

The problem with this cycle is that, it pushes towards fast fashion.

In aligning with slow fashion, many activists have put pressure on high-end design houses to look at producing clothing from materials that are much more sustainable and escape the trend-based consumption of fashion. This also pushes towards producing clothing that is made from material that is cheap, all in the name of mass production.

This means, there is more polyesters in our oceans (which can take as long as 200 years at most to degrade) as a material that is cheap and mostly used for numerous fast fashion items.

So when we question Riky Rick's or any other celebrity's allegiance with a seemingly racist brand, let's also consider sustainable allegiance in our missives.

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