The issue of diversity in the fabric world — primarily the quilting/craft fabric world — was brought up here (in a major way) back in January, but it somehow took me several months to catch wind of it. In fact, I hadn’t heard anything of this very controversial post until Kristen’s passing mention in her Michael Miller coverage here.
I have read through the original post, its comments, the follow-up post, and some other posts that people have written in response. And I have thought about it for another month and this is what I have to say — short and sweet, I hope.
- Calling out any individual designer (especially what kind of people he or she chooses not to put on fabric, or because they tend to draw people of their own race/background), is ridiculous and mean. This is a problem with the industry, and attacking individual designers (or framing the issue on any one designer’s fabric) is counterproductive.
- Two points are much more worthy of discussion, and, I think, far more likely to spur positive change:
- The quilt/craft/lifestyle fabric world could definitely stand to be more diverse. It’s a business dominated by white, middle-to-upper-class women, as are the associated hobbies, and there’s nothing wrong with that in itself. But what I took away from the earlier online discussions are that people who are not white would like to be represented, especially when it comes to juvenile/novelty prints, and especially when they’re making things out of this fabric for their children.
- And by representation, I don’t mean representation by ethnic/racial/cultural stereotypes, which still find their way onto fabric quite often: geishas, Eskimos with igloos and penguins, cowboys and Indians, etc. Does this kind of imagery still has a place in today’s society? And does context matter? (Who designed the fabrics? What are they trying to express?) These questions I can’t answer, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I’d also love to hear your thoughts on any of these issues, but please, no personal attacks.