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Spears, Bone Necklaces, Locs & More! Junya Watanabe’s African-Inspired Runway Pieces Spark Racism Debate



Junya Watanbe Spring 2016 Collection Runway - BellaNaija - June2015007

At the Paris Men’s Fashion Week 2015, menswear designer – Junya Watanabe debuted an African-inspired Spring/Summer 2016 collection that raised eyebrows and brought a lot of attention to his showcase. With white male models dressed in traditional style outfits accessorized with necklaces featuring dried bones, spears, masks etc, African textile wraps, Massai collars and rocking locs and cornrows, the collection seemed like a referral to the days of colonialism.

According to, the collection was created in collaboration with Vlisco and Paris-based stores specializing in African jewelry, pieces etc.

Of course social media attacked the collection referring to it as the “Rachel Dolezal collection“.

Various websites like The Cut have expressed their thoughts about the collection citing it took inspiration from Africa without employing black models to model some of the pieces. The fashion brand is yet to make any official statement on the collection, and that just leads critics to think they see nothing wrong with it.

See a few ‘controversial’ outfits from the show below;

Junya Watanbe Spring 2016 Collection Runway - BellaNaija - June2015002 Junya Watanbe Spring 2016 Collection Runway - BellaNaija - June2015003 Junya Watanbe Spring 2016 Collection Runway - BellaNaija - June2015 Junya Watanbe Spring 2016 Collection Runway - BellaNaija - June2015004 Junya Watanbe Spring 2016 Collection Runway - BellaNaija - June2015001 Junya Watanbe Spring 2016 Collection Runway - BellaNaija - June2015005



What do you think BellaNaijarians? Do you think this is mainly borrowing the culture of a people to portray diversity and art, or should Black models have been used as the inspiration belongs to a predominantly Black race.

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Jennifer is the Beauty Editor & Style Representative of Get in touch - Send an email to: beauty(at) or style(at) | Follow us on Instagram: @bellanaijabeauty OR @bellanaijastyle | Follow us on Twitter: @bellanaijastyle


  1. eyong

    June 30, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    Oya, Bruno, come and defend sha, since the other day you said black people whine too much!

    See, this is wrong, not just because it is cultural appropriation, it is wrong because credit isn’t given to the actual cultural group from which it was taken. This isn’t “African fashion”, it looks to be Northern African, and from a specific following, but as usual, they have simply grouped us all in one big bag as AFRICA. That’s why you have mumu’s in America, college graduates even, who don’t know Africa is a CONTINENT! Smh.

    And again, when the black man does it, it is despicable, vile, and unGodly. But then they take it and assimilate it into their culture, and it becomes cool and trendy, right? We blacks are really a punching bag sha. We’re literarily at the forefront of almost every artistic and cultural movement within the past two hundred years, from Rock and Roll, to Rhythm and Blues… but never get any credit. Smh.

    • Drknite

      June 30, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      What are you talking about? cultural appropriation!

  2. Tara G

    June 30, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    The issue is that black people are not proud of who they are. Blacks dress like whites all the time and the whites don’t complain but when a white man dress like a black it is racist. Blacks have issues with identity.

    • Chikito

      July 1, 2015 at 12:30 am

      Please say it loud and clear. We are not proud of who we are. Even my fellow Igbo people who i felt would be proud of their culture all give their children English names. It is so meaningless. Your kids can’t speak Igbo, they don’t have Igbo names, they don’t even travel to their village, how then would they identify with their culture. Later you force them to marry Igbo people

      The Yoruba till date answer their native names and they speak as well. Anyway… this is not the forum for this…

    • chiamaka

      July 1, 2015 at 8:41 am

      Biko speak for yourself. Stop generalizing it, my parents gave us all Igbo names and Iwill do so to my cchildren whether I marry an Igbo man or not.

    • nike f

      July 1, 2015 at 11:43 am

      there is a difference between assimilation to white culture what we have been force to do due to colonisation etc and stealing other peoples culture! and even when we as black people assimilate the money still goes to the original creator, we do not take things and pass them of as our own and trendy or receive money for stealing someone elses culture. and please explain what dressing white means because the last time i checked white people were not the soul influences of pop culture or fashion, are black people walking around in river dance dresses? no! read a book sometime

  3. Drknite

    June 30, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Forgive me, I had no idea it was wrong or racist for a designer to use African culture as inspiration for their collection. Designers use culture themes all the time. Ralph Lauren uses Native American culture as inspiration for his collection all the time. There are others who use Eastern cultures as well. It is clear through your article, that you disapprove of the designers work or imitation of the culture . I will agree with you that they could have hired a few black models. Than again this is the fashion world we are talking about.

  4. bruno FIERCE

    June 30, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    don’t let me catch any black man in this world wearing an english suit

    don’t let me catch any black woman wearing a wrap dress ever

    dont let me catch any black woman on this earth wearing a little black dress (LBD)

    dont let me catch any black person in this world wearing a kimono.

    what is wrong with black people sef? is it only u people in this world.
    islanders etc
    do u see them complaining this much when a white people borrows from their culture? or when a white person wears their traditional attires?

    the clothes look fabulous and the white models brought the clothes to life. its so unique and cool to see oyinbo models wear ankara material on the runway.

    I’m sure the designer who designed the outfits is black.

    • bruno FIERCE

      June 30, 2015 at 9:04 pm

      the fashion designer is Japanese, and SO WHAT?

      look closely at the first picture. u will see a black model. pls stop trying to stir up hate.

      how many white models does mai atafo use to model his english suits? ZERO. do u see whites complaining. NO. cause they are not petty or insecure and they are not looking for validation

  5. S!

    June 30, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    I’m more offended by that bone necklace.
    Do Africans wear bones? Thunder fire them!

    • ada

      June 30, 2015 at 8:14 pm

      ooooooooooo boy ooooooo relax no be world cup abegi

    • whocares

      June 30, 2015 at 10:01 pm

      This offends me as well. They took their inspiration from Africa? Where in Africa!! Is Africa just the one country and are we a nation of bone wearing, tasliman wearing, poncho wearing, dredlocked hippies? wtf!!!! This just fosters the cliché you see in those stupid Adam Sandler movies.

    • Sister Girl

      June 30, 2015 at 10:03 pm


  6. goddess of the earth

    June 30, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    We were taught to wear suits and european style apparel we didnt have a say in the matter. I think it’s ok to use African culture in the collection but give credit where it is due. It wouldn’t have hurt to have black models walk the runway. There is nothing wrong in black people wearing suits.

  7. Olive

    June 30, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    If the words “w…t…f…” do not at least attempt to come out of your mouth then I commend you for your restraint. Is this fashion? Or a mockery of Africa? These people see our beauty and culture as the latest accessory. I better hope these beads and walking canes and shields were made as copycats. Because the idiot who sold them should be slapped. I am officially done with blind people and cultural appropriation. It is 2015, can we please stop this madness.

  8. Olive

    June 30, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    *white people I meant. And that includes other ethnicities that keeping on “funking” up.

  9. bruno FIERCE

    June 30, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    if u closely at the first picture, u will see that there is a black model walking away.
    we just like to open our mouth and shout racism and discrimination at every turn. its getting old pls.

    the funniest thing is we blacks dont want to be discriminated or oppressed but we are the one oppressing other minorities example gay people.

    why do black people like to complain? let me remind u people, u are not the only minorities in the fashion industry.
    Indians etc
    are all minorities in the fashion industry.

    how many latino models do u know

    how many arab models do u know

    how many Chinese models do u know.

    ” We were taught to wear suits and european
    style apparel we didnt have a say in the
    matter. ”

    just look at what an idiot is saying. this is 2015 and u still dont have a say in ur matters? are u for real?
    I pity us black people.

  10. EllesarisEllendil

    June 30, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    This is stupid!!!

    Most of the pieces here could be easily called Polynesian if we weren’t told they were “African inspired”. This might shock you but Africa doesn’t have the monopoly on Spears, Bones and Raffia Skirts. More importantly, I won’t be caught dead wearing these pieces so I don’t care.

    Finally if you don’t see the irony in coming to scream racism while enjoying a “culturally appropriated” Air-conditioner, Electricity, Internet and Telephone you should go for refresher Secondary School Literature classes. We have bigger problems than this inane debate. Just came from the wiki article of Nobel Prize winners, an astonishing lack of Africans(No Literature does not count, let it go). That my Brothers/Sisters is an actual problem.

    • Teri

      July 2, 2015 at 4:35 pm

      You do know what cultural appropriation is right? Africans aren’t pretending to be the originators or authorities on electricity, air conditioning, e.t.c so those examples you’ve mentioned don’t count. This designer just basically piled on a bunch of things he deems to be African into one show with know understanding or regard and it screams ignorance with a side of racism.

  11. Nikky

    June 30, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    I’m outraged by the outrage. People need to chill abeg.

  12. Uncle Steve

    June 30, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    Shut up bruno!! You talk too much like a f***l.I don’t want to hear anything about racism from that your ugly mouth because you have never experienced racism…..

  13. Nala

    June 30, 2015 at 11:25 pm

    Truth is, a lot of AFricans do not like African clothes- On the streets, what is being worn mostly? In the offices, red carpets- how many African-inspired clothes are worn?
    I know this is part of neo-colonialism (the West came to Africa, made us hate who we are and celebrate who that are, and till today we still do to a large unconscious extent).
    Since 1980’s Sankara urged AFricans to wear AFrican-made clothes ( but the impact of colonialism is too deep right now.

    Scroll up, to the previous post and see OUCH’s collection. We still prefer the West’s ways to ours and even regard it as better. Why are offices forcing us to wear suit and tie- see our weather, see their own. Na we dey kack office wear pass them.
    If we don’t de-colonize our minds and regain our pride, the West will keep taking from us like they did centuries ago.

  14. Shalsl

    July 1, 2015 at 2:10 am

    I no longer understand my fellow black people anymore, why are we so hostile? And so what that a white man was used? How many times have black girls and guys worn western designs and even feature as the leading face of a western brand? Dont we use weaves? Dont we wear english wears all the time?
    We cannot lie that they forced the english wears on us cause up till the end of colonialism we still wore native attire, we are the ones who chose to incoperate them into our styles and embrace them, even if you were forced then no one is forcing you now, it is our fellow blacks who force you not the whites.
    And yes i have experienced racism personally here in the US but does that mean i should become so hostile and violent to anything? Blacks need to calm down and realise that they are their own enemies, the people who enslaved your fore fathers are dead and if you need to settle a score please go to their grave sight.
    Do we even realise that africa was not the only continent that was enslaved and colonised? So was majority of asia! Great nations like India and Singapore were colonised, and taken as slaves to netral America to work on sugar plantations yet today Singapore is a first world country, India is sending biggest ever satelites to space and we africans are here blaming white people for our problems and lack of progress as a continent yet when any person among us rises up, it is people of his/her own skin that tear them down with hate.

    We should be happy that other cultures deem it fit to also embrace our culture as we have embraced theirs, it is in no way condescending but a sign of respect, I have met 10x more black racists than white and they always walk on pins around blacks cause we are too easily offended and scream racism over everything, yes racism exists against us but it is minimal and we are the ones who magnify it and ride it and water it and force it to grow, please wake up my fellow africans/ blacks, we are not the only race in the world and we are not victims except we chose to be.

  15. Amy

    July 1, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Were them mask, shields and over-the-top headpieces really necessary Lol. I find this more funny than insulting.

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