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Kate Spade Brand Culturally Appropriates Indigenous Culture and Steals an Indigenous design.

As an Indigenous person, this hurts to see the blatant disregard for my culture. I just finished writing close to 30 pages of Indigenous issues for school, and after coming back to the internet and scrolling I came across this. I decided this needed to be talked about and so I took it upon myself to write this article.

First and foremost -- Settler colonialism is not old or a pastime, it continues and thrives which contributes to the erasure of Indigenous people, culture, language, art, and sacred ceremonies. Settler colonialism is a structure not a time in history. Kate Spade is a multi-million dollar fashion brand -- that has produced a new skirt calling it their "newest" design a midi-skirt -- in reality this is an actual ribbon skirt. This is outright colonizer behavior and disrespectful to the entire Indigenous community, and ribbon skirts are sacred. Kate Spade took a step beyond appropriating and taking from Indigenous cultures by stealing from Indigenous artist Noah Pino-- they took their design and have been selling it off as their own. The main people at Kate Spade NY who MUST be held accountable and make a direct apology to the Indigenous community, and to the Indigenous artist they stole from are -- The Creative Director Nicola Glass, the head of design Tom Mora, Jenny Campbell the chief marketing officer, and the director of public relations Julia Cushman Curry.

What is a ribbon skirt?

A ribbon skirt is a sacred skirt used in Indigenous culture to show resilience, express identity, and honor their ancestors. However, ribbon skirts mean something different to each Indigenous person. It is spiritual and cultural -- ribbon skirts tell unique stories, and they are usually made for a specific person when made. This is an Indigenous person's unique story. Each ribbon and its color tells a story, and each design usually is connected to someone's identity.

Kate Spade stole from Indigenous artist Noah Pino. This is Pino's design.

Decolonial Clothing made a statement about Kate Spade and how it hurts Indigenous Communities

Their statement said "TAG US IN YOUR RIBBONS SKIRTS 🦅

Let’s show @katespadeny that cultural appropriation isn’t cute. It isn’t fashionable. It isn’t a good look for anyone - especially not in 2023 when you should know better by now! 

Once again, insensitive, greedy and ignorant fashion designers are ripping off Indigenous creativity with no regard for our history, culture, customs or way of life. For them, a stolen ribbon skirt imitation is simply another opportunity to make a dollar. But for us as Indigenous women and femmes, ribbon skirts carry deep cultural, spiritual and political significance. Ribbon Skirts represent our connection to the Land and to our cultural identity. And we will NEVER stop fighting for our cultural identity and ways of life because it symbolizes that WE ARE STILL HERE. 

So let’s show them who we are! Post your photos wearing your ribbon skirts (and pair it with a Decolonial Shirt!). Tag us in your photos and let’s flood social media with images of strong, proud, Indigenous Women and Femmes wearing our ribbon skirts in defiance 🙌🏾🙌🏾SUPPORT INDIGENOUS CREATORS


Photos #2 & #3 from our co-founder @casey.desjarlais"

Indigenous communities on facebook, instagram, twitter, and tiktok have spoken and expressed how this is not okay.

Kate Spade only replied on facebook a week ago commenting "hi, katrika. thank you for bringing this to our attention. please rest assured we will share your feedback to the appropriate department for review. we appreciate your patience in this matter" -- which is an ingenuine robotic response with no meaning other than telling Indigenous people that their culture is just feedback to be reviewed. They have said that they will take peoples opinions for review -- I am NOT sorry but these are not opinions, these are facts -- you stole from Indigenous culture, you took from an Indigenous designer, and all they had to say was "we will review your feedback/opinion." This is contributing to the erasure of Indigenous people and culture.

Kate Spade NY fb response to the Indigenous community.

As Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang talk about external colonialization which is what is happening here with what Kate Spade is doing -- " External colonialism (also called exogenous or exploitation colonization) denotes

the expropriation of fragments of Indigenous worlds, animals, plants and human beings,

extracting them in order to transport them to - and build the wealth, the privilege, or feed the

appetites of - the colonizers, who get marked as the first world" (Tuck,Yang, 4). This is just some food for thought.

Below are some screenshots of comments on Instagram.

Kate Spade NY needs to be held accountable and needs to direct an apology to the Indigenous community and the artist they stole from. Although it has been over a week since their post, they have been nothing but quiet. The ribbon skirt shown here seems to have been hidden from their website but still remains as two separate posts on their social media. They replaced the design with another ribbon skirt design which can be seen here. Changing or hiding the first stolen design is not enough. This is colonizer behavior at its finest. whilst ignoring the Indigenous community and still using a ribbon skirt for profit goes to show the lack of respect they have for Indigenous people. THIS MUST STOP!

New Ribbon Skirt on Kate Spade NY website

Sources: Tuck E. Wayne Young k. (2012). Decolonization: indigeneity, education & society, decolonization is not a metaphor.  pg  4.

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