Accessorizing (with) “Gypsyness” in the Twenty-first Century Cultural Appropriations in the Fashion Industry

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Published Nov 15, 2019
Mihaela Moscaliuc


Prefaced with a brief discussion of representation and cultural appropriation, this article examines how the fashion industry recycles and revamps hackneyed tropes that cast Roma into narratives of wanderlust, mystique, and transgression. Such tropes perpetuate epistemic injustice, compromise understandings ofRoma and their culture(s) within non-member groups, and curtail Roma designers’ rhetorical agency. I flesh out the discussion with the case of Mexican American designer Rio Uribe and his line Gypsy Sport and argue that, despite Uribe’s investment in social justice and much touted effort toward inclusiveness, he fails to acknowledge the unethical and harmful dimensions of his work. I turn to the fashion studio Romani Design (founded by Hungarian Roma designers Erika and Helena Varga) as an example of Roma initiatives that counter appropriative practices through reclaiming the heritage for self-representation and empowerment, then envision ways of intervening in the fashion industry’s co-option and misuse of Roma’s cultural heritage.

How to Cite

Moscaliuc, M. (2019). Accessorizing (with) “Gypsyness” in the Twenty-first Century: Cultural Appropriations in the Fashion Industry. Critical Romani Studies, 2(1), 92–114.
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Article Details


Representation, Cultural appropriation, Fashion industry, Rhetorical agency

Arts and culture