U.K. online retailer ASOS has become the latest fashion brand to jump on the dubious "trend" for Native American-inspired clothing.
Recently, Paul Frank drew widespread ire with a Fashion's Night Out party it billed as a "Dream Catchin' Pow Wow" replete with signature cocktails and guests who were encouraged to wear "war paint." (The brand later apologized with remarkable sincerity and pledged to consider cultural sensitivity when planning events in the future.) Last year, Urban Outfitters offered 21 items for sale that it described as "Navajo" — but which were not made by or with the authorization of the Navajo people, which holds a variety of trademarks on the use of that term. Some Native Americans were particularly offended that Urban Outfitters had branded some insensitive items, including a drinking flask, as "Navajo." The Navajo Nation eventually began legal action against the chain. Forever 21 also has sold a variety of "Navajo" products.
ASOS' array of products it describes as Navajo and Aztec bears the cheerful tag-line, "They invented chewing gum and chocolate, but surely the Aztecs' greatest achievement was inspiring these fresh prints?" The retailer implores shoppers to "Go native with Aztec & Navajo prints."
Can't we all learn from Urban Outfitters' mistakes?