Pharrell and Adidas Under Fire for Commercialising a Traditional
The Adidas x Pharrell Williams ‘Hu Holi’ collection is being scrutinised for commercialising a Hindu holiday.
Just days after its Indian release, and prior to its global launch, Pharrell Williams’ collaboration with Adidas, ‘Hu Holi’ has been called out for cultural appropriation.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed has asked Pharrell and Adidas to make a formal apology and rename the Holi inspired collection, which Zed stated was the “trivialisation of traditions-concepts-symbols-beliefs of Hinduism” and was a collection that is highly insensitive to the religious festival traditionally linked to various deities.
The colour-stained collection consists of trainers, shirts and jackets, (the highlight of the collection being Pharrell’s signature HU NMDs) designed to reflect the festival colours. A festival that is traditionally a time for crowds of Hindu followers to gather and eat, drink and cover each other in bright coloured dyes.
People have come forward to point out that Adidas and Pharrell are taking advantage of a traditional festival, and capitalising on it for their own gain. Zed has been trying to draw attention to the commodification of Hindu motifs and traditions.
Adidas said that the collection was inspired by “the magic and beauty” of Holi, and by using power dying technology it has created “truly one-of-a-kind pieces”. Whilst Pharrell travelled to India to learn about the significance and place of the festival, critics have pointed out that, in this instance, a European company is using an American celebrity to sell items inspired by a traditional Hindu event.
Meanwhile, the executive director of the Hindu American Foundation, Suhag A. Shukla, told Huffington Post that she believes “Adidas is definitely commercialising a religious festival, but calling it cultural appropriation might be a stretch”, because the company openly acknowledges the Hindu origins and the way it has inspired the line.
The collection is set to go ahead as planned, but for now we will have to wait for the ultimate outcome. What are your thoughts?
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