Cultural appropriation has been an ethical debate for some time yet people are still unsure what to wear without feeling like their wading into hot water.

It's not uncommon to see people adorned in feathered headdresses at festivals or for indigenous prints and textures to be on display on the catwalk, lifted almost exactly into fashion designer's high end collections. And of course, none of the profits made from these mark-ups go back to the community who originally inspired the design.

Well, it seems that now a small fashion brand has emerged in Romania with authentic products crafted directly from the Bihor County, thanks to a partnership between McCann Romania and Romanian lifestyle magazine Beau Monde.



Bihor Couture works with the local community to deisgn traditional-looking pieces, crediting the original makers of each item and making sure the money goes back in their pocket. This way, the creators can continue selling their clothes and prolong their traditions - which can be at risk of dying out as their stories are not told authentically, if at all, by fashion labels.

This way, buyers can read up about the culture that they're buying into and understand the traditional ways of wearing each item. Even if consumers then choose not to wear them as they were initially intended, at least they'll know the folkloric stories behind each product and have a sense of where it has come from.

Prices are listed on the site and start at just €6; far cheaper than any designer cloths although the quality is just as high as all the garments are handmade. 

Bihor Couture: The story


“Getting inspired by other countries’ rich heritage is normal, but the problem is not giving any credit, which means that nothing returns to these local communities of creators and traditions keepers," says the agency's group CD, Ioana Zamfir, Group Creative Director, McCann Bucharest. "The spotlight that a big brand could put on them, by merely acknowledging them as a source of inspiration, would translate into customers for their creations. They are struggling to make a living for themselves and also to keep precious traditions alive.”

Let's hope it will raise aware of folkloric fashion and get people thinking about where their clothes came from, rather than just buying into fashion cluelessly.

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