Keffiyah Scarfs: A simple trend or a political statement?
'Euro Scarf', 'Peace Scarf', or 'Keffiyah' whatever you call it the fashion trend is prevalent not just for Arab men but amongst young western women.
I first learned of the fashion trend to wear keffiyahs, the traditional Arab head scarf, from a a friend of mine. I was living in Jerusalem at the time and they asked me to buy one for them in the Arab market. I didn't do it. I do not feel it is appropriate for western fashionistas to expropriate the garment.
The keffiyah is a cultural symbol and has become a trademark symbol for Palestinian nationalism. It has evolved from a protective shade into a cultural symbol. On the other hand - what's the big deal it's just a piece of clothing which originated in the Middle East...?
This blogger is adamant that it's inappropriate and blasts western retailers for perpetuating the trend.
The Kaffiyeh is a cultural and religious object for Arabs and Muslims, so I have a pretty big problem with people wearing them and buying them from places like Urban Outfitters (see proof here) when the are described as “anti-war” scarfs. Mobius of Jewschool argues, and rightfully so in most cases, those most often pictured in Kaffiyeh are fighting wars…but that is besides the point.
It should be noted that Urban Outfitters stopped selling the item after much pressure. And the blogger refers to the keffiyah as a religious item - which, unlike the hijab, it is not.
But my friend need not worry as the politically charged item can now be acquired at Delia's.
Mobius reported earlier this week that Delia’s - the young woman’s cool clothier - now is selling “Peace Scarves” in dark blue. Again he looks to the regular wearers of Kaffiyeh and to the title of the scarves at Delia’s.
So the point of this post is to ask what do people, whose people wear these garments traditionally, feel about this trend in the Western fashion Kaffiyeh and the co-oping of the cultural and religious symbol as an piece of consumerists activism. So, what do you feel?
Here's a link to a timeline of the keffiyah in western society. Here are some highlights:
1983: Professional wrestler, The Iron Sheik, signs with WWF to personify every negative stereotype about the Middle East in case you didn't already have them. At autograph signing event in Detroit, reports surface of a five year-old brat named Will repeatedly yanking kaffiyeh off of Sheik's head.
April 2001: Sting performs in front of pyramids at Giza. Unable to decide which color keffiyah best matches his eyes.
September 2001: Hate crimes against U.S. Arabs increase. Peace activists intensify keffiyah-wearing in solidarity.
May 2002: Columbia University students wear keffiyahs to graduation ceremony in solidarity with Palestine.
April 2007: "Balenciaga Scarf" makes it on Style.com’s must-haves for Fall 2007.
David Beckham spotted wearing blue keffiyah in Madrid.
July 2007: Urban Outfitters' Keffiyah Kraze, Version 2: The Heart Woven Desert Scarf is "the Shemagh scarf with a girly touch." Available in bink and burble.
Teen clothing catalog, Alloy’s version: "The Riviera Scarf"
ASOS capitalizes on keffiyah in the style of Cameron Diaz with the "Rock Tassle Scarf in the style of Cameron Diaz"
ASOS capitalizes on keffiyahs in the style of Carl Barat and David Beckham with the "Libertines Check Scarf in the style of Carl Barat and David Beckham"
Teen Vogue proclaims Kirstin Dunst's brown number to be "Breezy, Global Chic." Right-wing blog visitors proclaim to now hate Kirstin Dunst.
What do you think?