It looks like some brands have stopped “seeing us” if they ever did to begin with. Luxury fashion brand Marni apologised for its “Jungle Mood” campaign shoot that portrayed racist imagery of Black models in chains and in tribal regalia.
The Italian brand took to Instagram to launch the campaign with images including a Black man with what appeared to be shackles on his feet, Praia flip flops “powerful and shining like a tribal amulet” and “barefoot in the jungle”. A flurry of comments condemned the depictions and terminology, including blogger and model Natasha Ndlovu:
“Corona hasn’t even finished its world tour and Italian brands are at it again. And this whole ‘jungle mood’ terminology is so stereotypical jee zus ! Isn’t there a fashion panel that should approve images for brand campaigns? As a content creator brands are up my *ss doing approvals before I post content so why can’t an image that will be on billboards worldwide have the same background check?”
But besides the shackles and “tribal amulets”, there’s a lot of cultural appropriation at play. Diet Prada called out Marni’s new campaign with its “smorgasbord of ethnic accessories like Bayong wood necklaces from the Philippines, Caribbean woven grass hats, and other non-descript wooden jewelry (none of which are Marni)”. Oh, and Marni actually deleted the image of the Black man in shackles.
There’s also the question of the photographer, Edgar Azevedo, who is Afro-Brazilian. Was there a message amongst the sloppy copy or was it a promotion of racist stereotypes and appropriative garments? My issue with a lot of fashion brands and their campaigns is their intent is ambiguous, but their impact is harmful. I can’t imagine a better outlook for this campaign than what we’ve seen and I don’t see how it was appropriate for the times we’re in. The products don’t even look that nice and they’re the background props for whatever this campaign was supposed to be.