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Cultural appropriation question: Heirlooms? UPDATED

Hello O wise ones. So, I have this silk brocade coat (pictured) that was my grandmother's—She bought it in the territory of Hawaii probably in the mid to late 50s, according to the label it is from a Honolulu shop and made in "the British crown colony of Hong Kong." I'm a white woman. Would it be appropriative and/or weird for me to wear it? What are your thoughts? Not sure I can think of an occasion where I even would wear it, but I wanted to make sure I am aware of the connotations and potential reaction. I would obviously not wear it as a costume if I were to wear it...

So, after reading some initial reactions from y'all (most people said that it was generally OK to them if not part of a costume, although a couple folks said proceed with caution) I did a little digging around the internet. I found this blog post from Metafashion to be pretty useful. The general since from the author is that items such as a long brocade coat, while "better" than fashion items that would always be offensive (such as an "Indian" headdress) are often tough going because a) they are such statement pieces that they are hard to wear anything else with and b) have culturally specific design elements and textiles. Given that the item is vintage, it was likely made and worn in a time where "Chinese" dress such as this was in fashion (the 1950s), although I am not a fashion historian so I don't know the particular context. Which, given the place (Hawaii/Hong Kong, which were both colonies at the time)...seems to have had a good amount of imperialist subtext. I would say, for me, that I haven't fully made up my mind over whether to ever wear the item or not, but I'd definitely tread carefully.

Illustration for article titled Cultural appropriation question: Heirlooms? UPDATED

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