KARACHI: Elan’s lawn campaign for 2020 has been subjected to a lot of backlash and controversy while being applauded at the same time. Featuring Mushk Kaleem and Kenyan model Gabriel Ford, Elan’s campaign “gives out a message of acceptance and racial harmony,” according to head designer Khadijah Shah.
“We show an interracial couple discovering an island in Africa.The island itself has been ravaged by terrorism in recent years, and bringing the focus back on its beauty will prove to be beneficial for locals.”
The Internet is divided over the photos. Many have lauded the move, saying it’s a relief to see a brand focusing on diversity and featuring a dark-skinned model at a time when Eurocentric notions of beauty are the widely accepted norm.
On the other hand, people are calling out the brand for being racially insensitive, and the campaign is being accused of cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is when one adopt elements of an outside, often minority culture, including knowledge, practices, and symbols, without understanding or respecting the original culture and context.)
Other criticism coming Elan’s way is regarding the timing of the images, with several people saying that it seems performative and opportunistic of the brand to feature a black model at a time when #BlackLivesMatter movement is trending worldwide due protests that have erupted across the US against the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed by a police officer.
The images were first released in March and the campaign is continuing this month. Khadija Shah says they had to pause because of Covid-19 but are restarting the campaign as they are launching the collection in a week.
The designer took to Twitter to explain the thought behind this year’s campaign.