10 May 2011

Swimwear and Multiculturalism. A study

This is an age of multiculturalism and sensitivity. It’s not always so easy. That’s what Lisa Burke found out over the last few days. She is an Aussie, living in Byron Bay. She is also a swimsuit designer. She is not on Project Runway.
Seems Ms Burke is the focus of protests by both the Indian government and people. Why? She designed a swimming costume with the likeness of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, which was shown at Australian Fashion Week last week.

Georgina Robinson wrote the article in today’s (Melbourne) Age: “Demonstrators in Amritsar burned the Australian flag and waved placards on Sunday in protest at a skimpy swimsuit... shows Lakshmi - the goddess of wealth and beauty - on the front and back of the cutaway design.”

Australia already had a weakened relationship with India after the cricket World Cup last summer where the sub-continent eventual winners India, took out the formerly unbeaten Aussie side with relative ease.

Ms Burke issued an apology on Facebook and Twitter, even mentioning the people, "We apologize to the Hindu community and take this matter very seriously."

Now the latest news may only aggravate the relationship. We may need our PM, Julia Gillard to help. Seems during the weekend the Bharatiya Janata Partya party called for an apology from the Australian government, according to London's Telegraph newspaper.

Sensitivity. Relationships. Not easy in this multi-cultural world and especially with commercialism and marketing to various other cultures within each country. Globalization makes us want to get our goods to others, but being sensitive is required.

The wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William had us all over the world watching the ceremony, the pomp, and the dress. Yes, clothing can be multi-national to be sure. Consider the Nike swoosh and the impact of Michael Jordan’s Air Nike label.

And Ms Burke was hoping to make her label available and visible to the Hindu market. I guess making a Hindu goddess available may not have made the swimsuit marketable. Let’s hope Ms Gillard can weigh in and help.


Read more: The Age

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