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Chanel accused of appropriating Aboriginal culture with $1,325 boomerang

By Daniel Uria
Chanel accused of appropriating Aboriginal culture with $1,325 boomerang
Chanel offered a more than $1,000 boomerang for sale on its website, prompting criticism of the brand for appropriating Indigenous Australian culture. Screen capture/Chanel

May 16 (UPI) -- Chanel has been criticized for appropriating Indigenous Australian culture by selling a more than $1,000 boomerang.

The $1,325 black wood and resin boomerang is part of the "other accessories" section of the brand's spring-summer 2017 pre-collection, which also includes a $3,350 set of beach tennis rackets and balls, and a $1,150 tennis racket.

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American makeup artist and vlogger Jeffree Star shared photos and video of the expensive boomerang, prompting a discussion about the cultural relevance of the item.

"Having so much fun with my new Chanel boomerang," Star wrote.

Writer and activist Nayuka Gorrie found the boomerang less fun as she told The Guardian the item was "so wrong it is almost absurd," considering Indigenous Australians are some of the most disadvantaged people in the country.

"When I think about Aboriginal culture, I think Chanel," she tweeted. "Have decided to save for the next three years so I can connect with my culture via Chanel."

Gorrie added that it was hurtful for the brand to take advantage of Aboriginal culture for the luxury item.

"Having a luxury brand swoop in, appropriate, sell our technologies and profit from our cultures for an absurd amount of money is ridiculous and hurtful," she said. "If Chanel truly want to respect Aboriginal cultures, the first place they should start is discontinue this product and issue an apology. Perhaps the next step would be supporting existing black designers."

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Professor of Intellectual Property and Innovation at the Queensland University of Technology Matthew Rimmer told ABC News the boomerang controversy brings attention to copyright litigation against rip-offs of Indigenous art.

"As a good corporate citizen, Chanel should apologize fully, withdraw the boomerang from sale, and make appropriate reparations to Australian Indigenous communities," Rimmer said.

Chanel released a statement saying it was "extremely committed to respecting all cultures, and regrets that some may have felt offended," as the boomerang remains available for sale.

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