In 2018, Gucci was criticized for cultural appropriation for having white and non-practicing models wearing turbans on their runway. We’ve worked with multiple Sikh models, and last season had two models wearing turbans, because that is what they wear every day. You might think, “So what? Canada is a very ethnically diverse country and has been for years, it’s not news”. That may be true, but that didn’t stop a random photographer in the press pit from assuming one Sikh model was the other, and telling black models to make ‘gang signs’ in a photo.
This past season, YouTube star and trans rights activist Stef Sanjati appeared on our runway with the words ‘Fuck Doug Ford’ written across her stomach, in protest of his rollback on sexual education curriculum in Ontario, including important information regarding consent, gender identity, and sexual orientation. You might think, “So what? There is plenty of liberal media coverage of LGBTQ issues.” That may be true, but that didn’t stop transgender sex worker Sisi Thibert from being stabbed to death in the lobby of her Montreal apartment in 2017. I was anxious about the potential backlash of Stef’s statement, but I knew it was an important statement to make, and wanted Stef to feel like she could express herself. Unfortunately, there was zero attention surrounding this statement on the runway, positive or negative.