Old Navy Goes Tribal…Sigh

So I went shopping on 34th street yesterday.  I made a quick sweep through Old Navy to see the new summer items. When I got past the double doors… there it was! A huge poster of 3 models wearing some of the featured items in the front of the store. Apparently, the jungle, urban, or tribal look is in. Sigh…

The first thing that struck me was that in this Caribbean themed display the black, dark-skinned model was in the center of the spread and prominently featured. (I’ve always heard black models get the most work, if any during the summer months because clothes are usually brighter and look better against dark skin.)  Secondly, the black model was wearing a beautiful gold lame one-piece swim suit. Her hair was natural and her skin was glowing. It was here that I stopped being proud.

The two white models flanking the center model had on muted brown and tan swimsuits, wooden jewelery, and carried other items made of natural materials. The display was completed using large, banana fan plants.  I mean, I guess. Most would probably say, “Damn, you’re never satisfied.” Yes, I do get pissed when there are no models of color and then I get more pissed when models of color are only featured when and if their skin tone or “ethnic” (I hate that damn word) features are of importance or used to complete a theme or look. Why the hell does it have to be this way? To be fair to Old Navy, I do give them a “big up” for even using models of color in their ads but they still can do better.

Mind you, the gold-lame swim suit had a plunging neckline and was cute and if I wasn’t part of “team chunk” I’d probably buy it.  Something just came across me as I stared at the poster. That feeling of being “the other” or mystical (people have told me that I was) came over me. Maybe I’m just rambling about nothing, but there was something very sad about the ad. Isn’t there a better way to use muted browns, tans, oranges, and gold without it being tribal, ethnic, or featuring the dark-skinned chick to make it seem more foreign or primitive?

As soon at the summer is over, I’m sure this and many other black models will be relegated to best friend status or insignificant sidekick. By fashion week the runways will most likely have no models of color. I guess we have only to wait for spring/summer for the chocolate beauties to appear once again to sell the fashion world’s obsession with primitive cultures.


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