Just Don’t?

In as recent as 2017 the famous sports apparel and shoe brand Nike released a new set of athletic wear that featured a very cultural appropriated pattern that is used by the Tatau islanders of Fiji, Samoa, and New Zealand.  As soon as they were publicly released the people of Tatau origin were immediately outraged and made it apparent that Nike had offended them greatly.  For one, the print that you can see on the clothing above is that of geometric shapes, forms, and patterns is what is traditionally seen on the males within the Samoan culture, not women.  Seeing as Nike decided to put this cultural pattern on the female line of workout clothes was their first mistake, but the second and largest mistake was not consulting with anyone who the pattern may have significant meaning and importance to.

Nike’s women’s “Tattoo Bodysuit” 2017

On top of Nike’s design team not doing their research on the patterns they were using, Nike didn’t even pull the line of clothing down until after a Change.org petition was created and then signed by more than 750 signatures.  After the pull, Nike’s PR statement said “The Nike Tattoo Tech collection was inspired by tattoo graphics.  [They] apologize to anyone who views this design as insensitive to any specific culture.  No offense was intended”.  

What’s most upsetting to me is how recent this was.  This was only barely four years ago and this major clothing brand’s design team failed to see how this “tattoo pattern” as they’re calling it, wasn’t somehow cultural appropriation?  Even if you didn’t know exactly where these tattoos originated from, I would say that most Americans right off the street would refer to them as “Hawaiian Tattoos” because that’s how Hawaiian men and sometimes women are depicted in movies and shows as having this type of tattoo pattern displayed on their bodies.  To me it’s unbelievable that the Nike team didn’t know that this might have been seen this way, I think that they were hoping no outrage would come from them taking a nation’s cultural markings and patterns offensively and make a good dollar from it.  It’s not difficult to do some research when it comes to possible cultural references that you may be designing from or getting inspiration from, especially when you’re a fortune 500 company, use that money to hire a good research team so that your company doesn’t look ignorant and disrespectful with their product designs and ideas.

source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/nike-tattoo-leggings_n_3763591

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