Is Boho Fashion Appreciation Or Appropriation?: The History and Importance of Bohemian Fashion

First, Let's Talk about the Origin of Boho Fashion 

While the aesthetics of boho fashion can be linked to the 60s’ and 70s’ hippie era inspiration, the true history of the alternative style dates all the way back to the end of the 18th century. Despite the term now alluding to flowers and femininity, the term “bohemian” historically functioned as a derogatory term used in reference to the Romani, a nomadic group with origins in the Bohemia region of Eastern Europe. 

This nomadic lifestyle and unconventional way of living were heavily reflected through their style which frequently included eye-catching color, oriental-inspired, loose-fitting skirts, large gold jewelry, and scarf-like wraps that draped across their top half. It was not until the middle of the 19th century that French intellectuals and impoverished artists would begin to imitate this aesthetic and romanticize the culture's seemingly unorthodox narrative. 

The counterculture of the Romani quickly gained popularity in various regions; the aesthetic no longer belonged to any specific culture in the eyes of the public, but instead to a nuanced ideology built on nonconformity (or at least the appearance of such). 

 

Boho Fashion & Cultural Appropriation 

While I am sure we can all agree to the beauty and freedom that comes with boho fashion, it is equally as important to consider how we accommodated it. And, truthfully, the answer is simple: cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation occurs when ideas, customs, and practices are taken from marginalized groups by a more dominant society-often for monetary or social gain, without any acknowledgment of their true origins. With that being said, if boho fashion grew in popularity due to the aesthetic of nonconformity and social/political otherness, the narrative behind the aesthetic has always been one that is more inclusive and relative for marginalized groups and minorities rather than the masses.

The point is not that we acquired the beauty and style of the Romani, the problem lies in our inability to give them credit for our findings whilst continuing to profit from them. It is a tale old as time, unfortunately. When growing up in a melting pot of cultures and ideologies, it can be a tough battle navigating the road of ethics and respect-especially if the roads were paved well before your time. Nonetheless, if we genuinely want to create a progressive environment in the fashion industry, it’s essential that we learn to collaborate rather than appropriate. 

 

Highlight The Hyphen 

Here at Emorie Jordon, we value both culture and collaboration by highlighting the hyphen. It’s important to recognize that regardless of racial background, as women, we act as the keepers of the traditions and culture that our parents, grandparents, and ancestors fought so bravely to instill. For us, the goal is to create a safe space for not only women but the traditions that we carry along with us. Being “Hyphen-American” comes with its own unique set of experiences, and those experiences/traditions should be expressible without the fear of potential loss and invalidation; we are all more alike than we are different. Emorie Jordon envisions a society where women of color can simply belong. 

Our goal is to collaborate rather than appropriate by joining forces with powerful women of all cultures and backgrounds during the creation of our prints-to help share their uniqueness through fashion and what that represents for them. Through featuring female-owned boho-style products and uniting for the greater good of tradition, Emorie Jordon is on a mission to amplify culture, not appropriate it.


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