Political chic? The Kuffiyeh

0 Posted by - March 22, 2007 - Blog

Political and cultural iconic design often starts from a place of solidarity and union, but then gets co-opted by mainstream pop culture. This is no surprise, revolution needs symbols, and these symbols need to be noticed.

But is there a gain and/or loss to a cause when these symbols become an fashion accessory? Look at Ché. And, ask any wide-eyed kid with a button who Ernesto Guevara de la Serna is and you are likely to be met with a blank stare.

Now take a look at the next urbanite wearing a kuffiyeh. Has the traditional head scarf worn by Yasser Arafat and others fighting in support of Palestinian freedom from occupation become reduced to a trendy fashion statement rather than a political one? Or does appropriation and imitation symbolize public solidarity with Palestinian resistance?

I would hope for the latter, that acceptance and solidarity are behind the trend, but would not be surprised if the Ché syndrome spreads onto kuffiyeh wearers.

Afterall, they hit Urban Outfitters according to KABOBfest, and not without Zionist protest. But, is this a victory, or just an unbelievable deal for just $20? Attractive yes, but my sceptical self wonders how long cultural and political identity survives on a sale rack.

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