Cultural Appreciation or Cultural Appropriation

Native American-Inspired Jewelry Design

Celia Stall-Meadows

Business Case
Source: Bloomsbury Fashion Business Cases
DOI: 10.5040/9781474208765.0014
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Abstract

A fictional fashion accessories business, Reflections, has expanded its line of fashion jewelry into an uncharted area of Native American-inspired designs. The new jewelry collection, Tribal, is inspired by beautiful Native American culture and art, such as feathers, arrows, and dream catchers. Reflections’ Tribal jewelry collection generates only marginal success in sales, until a popular Hollywood celebrity is photographed wearing one of the Tribal pieces. The red-carpet runway images circulate on social media. Within a few days, sales spike for all the pieces in the Tribal collection. Reflections is pleased with the publicity and the increase in sales. Prior to the celebrity sighting, Native American tribes had been unaware or unconcerned with the Native American-inspired jewelry by Reflections, but social media propels the issue of cultural appropriation—profiting from minorities’ cultural artifacts—into the public eye. The tribal leaders criticize Reflections’ promotion of cultural stereotypes and call for a boycott of the fashion jewelry manufacturer and the retailers who sell the merchandise. How should Reflections respond?


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