October 27, 2021No Comments

The Problem With Music Festivals: Vibes Of Appropriation

History, culture and art surround us daily but it isn't every day we’re at a music festival. It's been the topic of discussion for years and boundaries are still being crossed. So why is rich history and culture still being appropriated at music festivals? 

Drinks, check. Ticket, check. Outfit made from stolen culture, check. With the festival season coming to a close the topics of discussions are the same as it's been for years. No change and certainly not much improvement. It's easy to put on an outfit and follow trends without thinking about where its origin. This is where it's easy to be a villain of cultural appropriation.

Cultural Appropriation vs Cultural Appreciation

There's a fine line between appropriation and appreciation but where the defining point belongs is respect, education and acceptance. If you are wearing a bindi to a music festival you are taking a style with cultural significance and placing it in your culture without ode or respect for its original cultural reference/placement. If you are to wear a bindi to an Asian friend's wedding you are taking their culture, using it in cultural respect and placement and taking part in the culture. It's a simple question: Am I wearing this with respect to its original culture? And am I wearing this in a culturally appropriate scenario? If you’re ever unsure if your fashion choices are culturally appropriate simply don't wear it at all, you have to do the hard work, it's not about asking permission but having a conversation that informs you about your choice and the roots.

Fashion & Festivals

Fashion has been the culprit of appropriation for years. We’ve seen it on the catwalk, within music videos and now on the high street. And despite the harsh call-out culture of the 21st century, fashion seems to be making daily mistakes. It isn't just companies to blame, it's the consumer too. Some things weren’t meant for YOU to buy and wear and that's okay. So to make it easier Culture Shift has made a list of what not to wear and what to wear instead!


Native Indian Headdresses:

Image Credits: I Use To Be A Highschool Feminist

Yes, they’re colourful and full of culture, which is beautiful in itself but definitely not meant to be part of your festival outfit. Worn by most natives of North America, these spectacular headpieces are often made from horsehair, porcupine and animal feathers. They were popular on the battlefields and most tribes have speciality colours, shapes and materials. And besides, I’m not sure native ancestors would appreciate yesterday's cheeseburger and fries all over their culture headdress.

Black Hairstyles

Image Credits: Adele Instagram

After years of appropriation, black hairstyles are finally getting the appreciation they deserve. We’re nearly there in wiping out appropriation of black culture but at this year's festivals many attended with braids, hair jewels and certain hairstyles only to be worn by the black community. We’ve seen appropriation on runways, high street brands and all across social media in the past century so by now it should be clear what to wear and what to avoid. But let's make it clear: No cornrows, no box braids and no Bantu knots. These hairstyles do however have exceptions (for appreciation purposes only). Take Adele for example. Her IG post of missing the days of Carnival and posing in her Bantu knots got some backlash but her intention was appreciation rather than appropriation. She was knee-deep in Jamaican culture, got her Knots done by a local hairstylist and danced the night away, and this is where the difference is clear.


Image Credits: Junkee

A historical and cultural symbol of India and Southeastern Asia. The bindi is jewels, make-up and studs of the face often used for wedding ceremonies and religious holidays. Over the years, wearing jewels and face tattoos to festivals have become more and more popular. With high street brands such as ASOS, Newlook and Boots selling sets and marketing them around the festival season it's no surprise that the bindi is now an overused sight of summer days. With no cultural recognition whatsoever the bindi is the latest and most popular trend and continues to become a huge victim of appropriation.

Bucket Hats, Print Shirts & Side Pouches

We saw it from Alex at Glasto and pretty much the entire 2019 and 2021 festival season. The Air Max, baggy and grimey style is an ode to early Grime and Garage days, a little controversial when you’re at a techno festival. With the popularity of the BAFTA-winning show “People Just Do Nothing'', particular to the mockumentary style of comedy you'll see people taking on their own parody of this style. Smart wear like Patterned Moschino was the uniform that came out of 2Step and Garage - strangely enough, loafers, smart trousers and even a sports jacket were the go-to ensembles. As this evolved into Grime the footwear became more comfortable and as the tempo increased you would ditch loafers for Nike TNs, the smart trousers for shorts, especially in clubs abroad (think Spain, Cyprus etc).

Add in the styles of 90s rave Bucket hats, from EDM culture and baggies in bum bags it's no wonder we have the style we do today that resembles our friend Alex. The difference between Alex and general festival-goers is the love for the culture and the music - to literally know bar-for-bar and go absolutely ape shit when your favourite riddim is played. This is the art of posing, you’re either a real one or just a manakin. We all know a charlatan when we see one. 


Hair Accessories 

Okay, hear us out... We know you probably wore this to a 2011 One Direction concert but pick the right hairstyle and glitter colour to fit your outfit and away we go. It's cheap, easy to do and looks great all day. Yes, it might take out 3-4 washes to get out but a minor inconvenience at best. Pair with french braids, space buns or a simple down style, will the glitter look take over the festivals of 2022?

French Braids

If you didn't sit around your whole lunchtime in secondary school braiding people's hair like this then you simply weren’t ‘cool.’ They stay out all day, good with all lengths of hair and most importantly belong to white and European culture! Add glitter for that extra sparkle or add some hair jewels if you please. 10/10 for comfort and creativity.

Face Glitter 

Photo Credits: IStock

A fan of the 2015 Tumblr rainbow or not, face glitter has been used since the birth of festivals and goes back to the peace & love movement of the ’60s. Yet again the perfect colour match for any outfit, the only downside is you may have to apply every few hours but definitely worth the attraction. Pair with a colour-contrasting eyeshadow, neon top and some matching trainers. A definite summer looks for next year. 

Power Suits 

Now I know what you’re thinking, straight leg polycotton trousers and a tightly fitted blazer. No Clark Kent shit but definitely his alter ego Superman. Your Thor hammer may not make it through security but you can jump the queue with those drunken superpowers and by the time you make it to the stage you'll get a rush of power. So why not make your outfit a little more fun and wear your Spiderman, Tinker Bell and Aquaman outfit and even reuse it at Halloween?

What needs to be done: 

We know things need to change but ultimately the chance is you, me and us. Cultural appropriation doesn’t seem to be sailing off anytime soon but to make its stay shorter we can start by making conscious fashion decisions. Ask yourself those key questions, leave room for education and think twice before leaving the house. We have a whole cold winter ahead of us and plenty of time to plan next year's festival fits. Let's make sure it's one that feels right and belongs to YOU.

June 2, 2020No Comments

7 Organisations Supporting The Black Lives Matter Movement And How You Can Help

Right now, the world is reeling with anger after the senseless murder of George Floyd. America has witnessed another needless death, and the world is rightfully angry. As George - a 46-year-old black man - died at the hands of Minneapolis police, we've seen the world react. Protestors are taking to the streets during a pandemic to demand justice, but this isn't an option for everyone. While we respect their bravery to stand up when it counts most, equally, we respect the decision to stay indoors too.

However, what we absolutely cannot do right now is nothing at all. Please, don't for a second think that sharing the odd post on social media will make an ounce of difference. It's not enough. It will never be enough. Justice will not be served for George Floyd, for Ahmaud Arbery, for Breonna Taylor, for all victims of racism and police brutality in the US and beyond until we challenge racism at every level.

As we all know, George's death is not an outlier in America. These senseless killings have been going on for decades. The fact of the matter is; racism isn't getting worse; it's just getting filmed. Over the weekend, millions have watched on as protests turn violent and more people are mistreated at the hands of the police. The very people who are paid to protect the public are harming them; from throwing up the white power sign to manhandling peaceful protesters, it has to stop.

If you're in a position to support the cause financially, we've rounded up organisations that are worthy of your support.

If you want to bail out protesters:

The Bail Project and the Atlanta Solidarity Fund are raising funds so they can continue to assist protestors with bail funds. While organisations such as the Minnesota Freedom Fund overwhelmed with donations, lesser-known organisations still need support.

If you want to support protesters with their legal fees:

Know Your Rights Camp is a great place to start. The organisation - which was founded by Colin Kaepernick - works to empower black and brown communities through providing free education and resources. In their latest initiative, they're focused on hiring defence attorneys for anyone arrested for protesting police brutality. Support the cause here.

If you want to ensure protesters are staying safe during a global pandemic:

Masks For America are ensuring that protestors in NYC are equipped with masks, food, and medical supplies. The Northstar Health collective is also providing care at protests; a little research will find plenty of similar organisations operating in other areas too.

If you want to ensure the freedom of press:

Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) are doing amazing work. We all know that the press has the ability to control the narrative, and it's what they're doing right now. On Friday, we saw the Minnesota state police arrest a black CNN reporter live on air for merely doing his job. CPJ is an organisation that fights against press freedom violations all over the world.

If you want the peace of mind knowing that every vote counts:

Fair Fight is an organisation focusing on free and fair elections. Founded by Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams, Fair Fight is on a mission to end voter suppression by electing more progressive voices to public offices. After Donald Trumps "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" stance, the US is crying out for progression.

Getty images

If you can spare the cash, you can rest assured that your money will be put to good use via one of these reputable organisations. With that said, if you can't afford to donate, simply having these powerful change-makers on your radar is a start. But there's so much more to be done.

It's about time we took some affirmative action. To see the events that have unfolded in the past week and do nothing is simply not good enough. We need to sign petitions, start conversations, educate ourselves, engage with organisations, change our behaviour and challenge racism at every level.

If the footage of George's murder and the videos that have followed have left you feeling angry, now is not the time to sit on the fence. As cliché as it might sound, change starts with us as individuals. Not being racist isn't enough anymore. We need to be actively anti-racist. As the world is standing up, don't be one of the people that sits back down. Show up. Today, tomorrow and every other day.

We wanted to round off with a powerful statement from Rihanna, which she made at the NAACP Image Awards. A prime example of using our platform for good and calling out those who aren't actively challenging racism. In the words of Rihanna, PULL UP.

Rihanna speaks out on racial inequality at the NAACP Image Awards, Feb 2020.

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