“Slave earrings”: Fabulously racist fashion jewelry

Nothing like starting the week off with some racism-inspired earrings to decorate these lobes!

First, it was plantation weddings, now it’s “slave earrings.” Apparently making a mockery of slavery is so chic these days that Vogue Italia decided to highlight it as the newest fashion craze:

Jewellery has always flirted with circular shapes, especially for use in making earrings. The most classic models are the slave and creole styles in gold hoops.

If the name brings to the mind the decorative traditions of the women of colour who were brought to the southern Unites States during the slave trade, the latest interpretation is pure freedom Colored stones, symbolic pendants and multiple spheres. And the evolution goes on.

It’s truly baffling how any fashion designer could come to the conclusion that we’re apparently SO “post-racial” that racism-as-fashion-trend would be a huge hit. I swear, it’s like Mugatu is a real person. But unfortunately, racism has actually been par for the course in modern fashion for a while now.

Fortunately for us, we can hold the assholes who support it accountable.

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/kensukevic/ Kensuke Nakamura

    I know this is nitpicky, but I don’t think jewelry has “flirted with circular shapes”. That’s like saying sandwiches have flirted with bread and meat combinations. If courting is the analogy, then jewelry has always been making hot sweaty love to circular shapes.

  • http://feministing.com/members/chumberger/ Chum

    They’re hoop earrings. Boring ol’ hoop earrings. How do you sell boring ol’ hoop earrings?

    Create a controversy.

    You shouldn’t be angry that this designer is a racist. You should be angry at yourself for being so easily manipulated into giving away free press.

    • http://feministing.com/members/angelh/ Angel H.

      Everybody knows that if you just ignore racism, it’ll go away!

      Oh wait…

    • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

      While you’re correct that they’re hoop earrings, and this is the first time I’ve ever heard hoop earrings called by this name, why should the author of this post be angry at herself for finding it objectionable? If you’re also correct that they’re marketing hoop earrings this way to create controversy (and I do believe this is correct), why should we not be angry at marketers who find this an acceptable thing to stir up and titillate consumers with, or people who think they’re somehow being “edgy” if they buy hoop earrings under this name?

  • http://feministing.com/members/toongrrl/ toongrrl

    They should be called ankle braclet earrings

  • http://feministing.com/members/angelh/ Angel H.

    Update: They’ve removed the article and have posted this statement instead:


    They’ve also changed the name to “Ethnic Earrings”. (So much better, amirite?) But what’s up with the “Creole” tag?

  • http://feministing.com/members/r0semarysays/ Rosemary

    I think Chum is giving Vogue Italia a bit too much credit. I think it’s a lot more likely that the writer is racist and ignorant than that he/she is some evil marketing genius…

  • http://feministing.com/members/ayamccabre/ Aya

    In fairness, the term ‘slave’ has been applied to circular body-jewelry designs for a long time. That usage has more to do with bondage than it does to do with history. Granted they took it a step further with the association, but they’re hardly the first people to use the label.