On Monday, the fashion label Dsquared2 showcased a Native-themed line at its Fall/Winter 2015 Women’s Show in Milan, Italy. The show streamed live on the company’s website, and was followed up by a series of Instagram and Twitter posts of photos from the event. Dsquared2’s designers, twin brothers Dean and Dan Caten, dubbed their collection “Dsquaw” and used the racial-slur pun as a hashtag. The posts and tweets prompted angry comments from Instagram and Twitter users, who called out the term as racist, offensive and insensitive. Many added that the clothing itself was yet another display of cultural appropriation. Hours later, the #Dsquaw hashtags were removed from Dsquared2’s Instagram page but can still be seen on the auto-Tweets posted to the @Dsquared2 feed. Here are a few sample photos with their original Instagram captions:
The #dsquaw hashtag was also used on Sunday as the designers were gearing up for Monday’s show:
The designers’ followers on Instagram and Twitter were treated to relentless usage of the word, as the tag was appended to 12 nearly-consecutive posts:
Some reactions, from Instagram and Twitter:
Melissa A @MelissaA1763: Hey @Dsquared2, do you (and everyone using this hashtag) have any idea how offensive you’re being with #dsquaw? Plus, #CulturalAppropriation
Ikwe @rabbitchoker: Apparently it’s not only ok to #steal designs, appropriate on someone’s #culture, but also to insult by using word #dsquaw #DontTrendOnMe
Johnnie Jae @johnniejae: And the award for most racist collection in a fashion week so far this year goes to @Dsquared2 with #Dsquaw
Dani @xodanix3: Pairing of slur with cultural imperialism is most definitely an assertion of conquest on all Indigenous peoples. #Dsquaw #DontTrendOnMe
The use of the racial slur wasn’t the only issue some Natives had with the designers. Many objected to the cultural appropriation in the collection, described in a gallery on the Dsquared2 Facebook page as a melding of “the enchantment of Canadian Indian tribes” with the “confident attitude of the British aristocracy.”
Designer Jamie Okuma, posted the following graphic, comparing the Dsquared2 design to a piece by her mother:
On their website the Caten brothers are described as Canadian twin brothers from Willowdale Ontario, who have operated in the international fashion business since 1984. Having also lived in New York City and Italy they call their collections, “Born in Canada, living in London, made in Italy”. In 2003, Dsquared2 received the “La Kore” award, considered the “Oscar” of the Italian fashion world, and they have also been recognized by GQ and were awarded with a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2009.
Dsquared2 has not responded to ICTMN’s request for comments.