The luxury fashion house Balenciaga is under fire for a pair of sweatpants that look like boxer shorts peeking out of the waistband. Cultural appropriation, critics say, is “stolen” from popular hip-hop culture.
The fuss over the gray sweatpants (on sale for 1,200 dollars) arose recently when a TikTok user posted a video about them. The user saw the pants, called Trompe-L’Oeil sweatpants, hanging in a store and commented that it “felt racist”. “They sewed the boxer into the pants,” he said.
University of Africana studies professor Marquita Gammage is also upset by the garment, she tells CNN. ‘I see it as the exploitation of black culture, with the hope of making a big profit,’ the California State University expert emails to the station.
Gammage has written many times about how the “exploitation” of black culture undermines its authenticity and how the inequality experienced by black people is used for its own gain in the process.
Low-hanging pants where a boxer peeks out above have become popular because of hip-hop culture. It’s an iconic style. ‘But the style has also been used to ‘criminalize’ black people. Especially black men, who (with the pants, ed.) have been portrayed as criminals and a threat to American society,’ says Gammage. ‘Men have been detained and killed because of this style. And now Balenciaga is presenting these pants as ‘their own’.’
Balenciaga says the brand often combines two pieces of clothing into a new whole, such as jeans with sweatpants and shirts with T-shirts. “These Trompe L’Oeil pants fit into this vision,” responds marketing manager Ludivine Pont.
The luxury fashion house was founded more than a hundred years ago in Spain and designed clothes for numerous Hollywood stars the French Olympic team, among others.