Didn't think jewelry could be offensive? Think again. Topshop is under some pretty strong criticism after a customer found a necklace that displays 19th century racist depictions of East Asians. According to reports, when the customer questioned the store manager about the offensive nature of the necklace, he defended it by saying it was "vintage" and, therefore, not racist. Yeah. You know. Like your grandma who was born in 1912. Sure thing.
The (naturally) offended customer then took complaints to Twitter and, in normal Twitter fashion, people responded pretty quickly — and no one is too pleased with Topshop.
Although the item (and it's matching bracelet and earring set...) have since been removed from the Topshop website, photos of the necklace are floating around social media accompanied with various versions of "shame on you" messages directed toward the massive UK brand responsible for the offensive jewelry.
As Venus Wong pointed out in her article on Refinery 29, the images that the necklace depicts are reminiscent of far more offensive anti-Chinese propaganda cartoons of the 1880s. Technically, the depictions are what some may call "vintage," but I don't think insensitive, racist images that call attention to horrible period in history really apply as a cool trend of the past reimagined, am I right?
Can you really blame people for being upset?
It's surprising that any company could watch the reputation hits Urban Outfitters has taken for selling offensive merchandise and still produce something that is not just borderline, but blatantly offensive. And what about the culturally appropriative magazine spreads that have come under fire? Or as Wong pointed out, the offensive Dolce and Gabbana earrings from a 2012 collection? It's almost as if fashion powerhouses simply don't take a look around and think to themselves, "well, maybe this isn't such a good idea."
Yes, Topshop, you're just about as cool as it gets. You make a girl think that she can put on a top and suddenly be Alexa Chung. But that doesn't exclude you from, you know, joining the rest of humanity and realizing what is offensive/racist/insensitive and what isn't.