As they say, always be careful with what you throw out because whatever that might be, it may come back to the thrower. Chanel threw a boomerang into the mix of “Other Accessories” in its web store recently and it flew back by way of social media outrage. Netizens, ever on the lookout for the slightest provocation by fashion houses, fervently charged Chanel with cultural insensitivity. Another opportunity to rage against cultural appropriation that seems to plague fashion these days?
The outrage is surprising. What has fashion not appropriated? If Chanel can build anything—such as the rocket at the autumn/winter 2017 show in Paris in March, it can sell anything. And it has. Remember the USD7,500 Chanel X Monster Audio (with sound engineering by Beats by Dre) headphones of 2014? That has nothing to do with what Coco made and sold, yet it was produced and retailed, and loved. Don’t be surprised if there would be a Chanel electric scooter or hover board. After all, there’s already a Chanel surfboard—unpriced, which means, if you’re interested, let’s talk.
Among the wrong sort of attention that the Chanel boomerang courted was this from an irate Twitterer Tara Mulholland: “your ‘boomerang’ is tacky and a gross appropriation of indigenous culture for your own profit.” We’re not sure if that is really a sound charge. If so, Toys ‘R’ Us is just as guilty. Perhaps the ire stems from the outlay needed to pay for the boomerang: a staggering SGD2,020 (it’s sold alongside a SGD2,330 tennis racket and a SGD590 set of four tennis balls)! Who can say this is truly worth its inflated price?
What was once a weapon traditionally thought to be used by an indigenous people and now a toy for those with proximity to a field to throw it, Chanel’s boomerang is rubbing in your face that there are those rich enough to want a luxury version of not quite anything to modern life, reflecting not how the wealthy live, but how they spend.
If personal mobility devices are not down the pipeline, what will Chanel throw out next? A frisbee? Perhaps that would not be “a gross appropriation… for own profit.” It would still be profit nonetheless.