‘Not a cute fashion accessory’: Gucci’s $800 ‘Indy Full Turban’ draws backlash

A model walks the runway at the Gucci show during Milan Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2018/19 on Feb. 21, 2018. (Venturelli/WireImage) (Venturelli /WireImage)

When the lanky white model walked onto the runway at a Gucci fashion show last year, people immediately zeroed in on one part of his ensemble: A bright blue turban.

It was styled nearly identically to the traditional headwear of Sikhs, who follow a faith with roots in South Asia, and outrage abounded. The Italian luxury brand was widely panned for not showing the look on “a brown model” and failing to grasp the turban’s significance.

“As a Sikh, I see this as a huge sign of disrespect and disregard toward Sikhism,” one person tweeted at the time.

But the initial backlash apparently had little effect, as keen-eyed social media users discovered this week that Gucci’s “Indy Full Turban” — described as a “gorgeously crafted turban” that is “ready to turn heads while keeping you in comfort as well as trademark style” — was being sold by Nordstrom for a reported price of nearly $800. The revelation has since prompted Sikhs and other critics to come after Gucci again, accusing the brand of trivializing an article of faith whose wearers often face discrimination and are attacked for expressing their religious identity.

By late Wednesday, the turban’s listing on Nordstrom’s website was marked as sold out and its $790 price tag was no longer visible. The department store and Gucci did not respond to requests for comment.

In Sikhism, wearing a turban “asserts a public commitment to maintaining the values and ethics of the tradition, including service, compassion, and honesty,” according to the Sikh Coalition, an advocacy organization. There are more than 25 million Sikhs worldwide, and the United States is home to an estimated 500,000, the coalition said.

On Tuesday, the Sikh Coalition tweeted an image of the Nordstrom listing and criticized the treatment of the “sacred” headwear.

“The turban is not just an accessory to monetize,” the group wrote, adding in a separate tweet that it had contacted Nordstrom and Gucci. It wrote: “Many find this cultural appropriation inappropriate, since those wearing the turban just for fashion will not appreciate its deep religious significance.”

In labeling the item cultural appropriation, many slammed Gucci for profiting off “the same look” that Sikhs are “attacked and killed” over. The coalition describes turbans as “the most visible aspect of the Sikh identity.”

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