PeepingMoon 2020: Fat-Tax, Cultural Appropriation to Unpaid Dues - Saucy-n-Spicy controversies that made headlines in fashion circuit


Everything that happened after the clock struck 12 on December 31, 2019, proved that 2020 was not the year to sit down and take ***t, 2020 was the year to get up and change stuff! Fashion is quite personal nowadays and so is its interpretation. What may be fashionable to you could hurt someone else’s sentiments. Although one thing is certain, as long as the fashion industry continues to exist, fashion controversies will prevail. Luckily or unluckily this year witnessed a lot of them. Some pushed the sensitive boundaries under the guise of innovations while others settled for ripped-off copies.

So far, we have not been short on saucy controversies that were worth munching popcorns upon. Cultural appropriation, blatant plagiarism, or insensitive remarks, this year witnessed a lot. Wow!

Recommended Read: PeepingMoon 2020: Masaba Gupta’s acting foray to JLo's venture in beauty biz, newsmakers that introduced pivotal changes in the fashion game!

Having that said, brings you the list of controversies that sparked debates all year long.


Owing to this global racial debate caused by the death of African-American man George Floyd, Hindustan Unilever dropped ‘fair’ form ‘Fair & Lovely’ cream as a part of their re-branding activity in June, this year. In July, the FMCG giant announced a new name for its popular skin lightening brand. The infamous ‘Fair & Lovely’ was now renamed to ‘Glow & Lovely’!

However, seems like netizens are displeased with this rebranding. Twitteratis felt that omitting certain words that stereotype beauty is not enough. Some feel that instead of changing the name, the product should be taken off the rack while others accused the brand of ‘performative racism’.



Jewellery brand Tanishq pulled down its ad for Ekatvam (Oneness) jewellery line after receiving severe backlash online in October. The 45-second ad featured a Muslim family decorating their house as they gear up to celebrate a traditional South Indian baby shower ceremony for their pregnant daughter-in-law. The advertisement divided the social media in two where one faction called it beautiful while the other side called it ‘love jihad’ and had problems with the portrayal of the Hindu woman in the Muslim household. They alleged that the brands don’t dare to show the advertisement the other way around with a Muslim girl celebrating Eid in a Hindu household. The hashtag #BoycottTanishq flooded Twitter as netizens accused it of promoting ‘love jihad.’ Too controversial...what was your take on this one?


Unveiling Reebok’s latest sneaker collection on Magazine Footwear News’ latest issue in November this year, the 28-year-old rapper Cardi posed as Hindu Goddess Durga with a sneaker in her hand. Although Cardi posed with an intention to pay homage to the deity whose symbols of protection and inner strength, it did not go down well with the netizens. Many called out the rapper for cultural appropriation and disrespecting other’s feelings. Some called her out for comparing herself to the Indian Goddess.

Moments after the outrage, Cardi issued an apology on her Instagram story stating that she didn’t mean to offend anyone’s culture or religion. Well, that escalated quickly.


Not a long time ago in October, Rihanna’s digital fashion show, Savage X Fenty Vol 2 won many hearts with its bang-on inclusivity, ground-breaking fashion, and EPIC performances. However, it did upset the Muslim community and her fans for using a music piece that was sampled from an Islamic hadith. Titled Doom, this London-based Coucou Chloe’s song in the question featured a revamped extract of Kuwaiti preacher Mishary bin Rashid Alafasy reciting a hadith, as reported by the sources. The hadith that has been used is a saying of the Prophet Muhammad that deals with judgment day.

The use of his sayings in a sensuous lingerie show was deemed totally inappropriate and ticked off some of her Islamic fans. Post 24 hours of receiving the backlash, Riri, singer Coucou and the official account of Savage X Fenty issued an apology to the Muslim community and their fans for hurting their sentiments.



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Going 'slightly pivot from its original goal of calling out the #gandicopies', Diet Sabya started putting out experiences of people working with fashion companies about their toxic work environment and extremely unprofessional ethics. One such company that came under its radar was Indian beauty, wellness, and fashion company Nykaa. Back in July, DS highlighted workplace harassment and toxic work culture including rape jokes with a post addressed to the e-commerce brand. It all started when the account posted some screenshots about an unnamed CXO at Nykaa and some disturbing acts of theirs. The screenshots had details of how an employee was treated if he/she came from a 'not so rich' background and had to take a train/bus to reach the office. It also included open rape jokes and racism to a level where it was extremely demeaning. The screenshots created a stir amongst the followers of Diet and several people called out Nykaa for this horrible behavior with employees.



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While Anna Wintour and Conde Nast’s Vogue was still under scrutiny for its behavior against black employees in the recent past owing to the BLM movement, Diet Prada went ahead and shed the light on the instances of insensitivity that were right there on the surface. Sharing a few magazine covers, the fashion police presented some ‘controversial moments’ from Vogue’s history of cultural appropriation that used black and POC models as mere props to glamorize the white privilege.

(Picture Courtesy: Official Instagram account of Diet Prada)

Diet shared a post featuring a series of magazine covers that glorified cultural appropriation that included the one featuring Deepika Padukone. Titled ‘Celebration of Global Talent’ this April 2019 issue was supposed to focus on ‘the new center which is everywhere and nowhere at once.’ Although, as pointed out by Diet Prada, the white actress Scarlett Johannson was still in the center of the new ‘center’. Actresses of color, Deepika, and Adesua Etomi were placed at her side as mere props.



Trust us, no controversy list is complete without Kim’s name in it. In September, the beauty mogul launched a new line of maternity solution wear with her brand SKIMS. The line included a stain finish sculpting bra with a clasp that can be undone during breastfeeding and a mid-rise thigh brief with a non-compressive core that allowed a baby bump to grow freely. Though it was a conscious attempt made to benefit pregnant ladies, it did not go well with the internet tribe. Many netizens condemned the ‘shape-wear’ saying that pregnant ladies need not be concerned about their bodies. However, there were some who defended the beauty moghul and her shapewear.

Amidst all the controversy, Kim finally addressed the backlash with a long, befitting reply. “To anyone who has an issue with maternity solution wear, and if you haven’t been pregnant before you may not know the struggle of what it’s like carrying all of this weight the way I did along with millions of strong women, @skims maternity line is not to slim but to support,” she stated in her tweet.  You, go gurl!



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While talking about the pressing issue of the fashion industry, Diet Sabya brought up the topic of Fat Tax. For those who don’t follow, ‘Fat Tax’ is a slang that is used when designers charge an extra amount to their plus-sized clients. Supporting this discussion, many clients, interns as well as assistants shed light on this pressing issue and stated how designers justify the fat tax by saying plus-sized women need extra fabric and additional embroidery work. With respect to this debate spreading like wildfire, the designer duo of Gauri & Nainika took a huge step of canceling the additional taxes on plus-sized clients, making them the first designers to do that. In her DM to Diet Sabya, Nainika commended its efforts for covering this important topic and shared the fact that they have canceled the extra charges from their terms and conditions.


A post shared by Diet Sabya (@dietsabya)

Other designers like Fuel and Nikasha later followed the suit. A change long due, kudos, Diet Sabya!



A post shared by Nonita Kalra (@nonitakalra)

While the world is prepping up to brace the ‘new normal’, Harper’s Bazaar India pulled down its shutters for an indefinite period in July, this year. The glossy version of the magazine had already left the stands, and now the digital issues were being halted for an unspecified period due to the uncertainty amid the pandemic and its economic repercussions. Bazaar's editor Nonita Kalra penned down a heartwarming post for her team and reminisced her journey with Bazaar.

However, it made a dramatic comeback, after all. After almost 2 months of hiatus, Bazaar released its digital issue for September featuring actress Sobhita Dhulipala. Back with a bang, we suppose!


(Image Courtesy: Harper's Bazaar Australia)

As a result of the unprecedented situation caused by the pandemic of COVID-19, eight of Bauer Media Group's magazines namely Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, InStyle, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Good Health, NW, and OK! had been axed. The Australian arm of the German Bauer Media was sold to Mercury Capital after citing a major drop in advertising revenue. Reportedly, the decision to ax the magazines weren't taken by Bauer Media, who claimed that they completed the sales of the Australian publishing business to Mercury Capital. Nearly 240 employees of Bauer Media have been laid-off due to the pandemic.



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Just after anti-racism protests displayed all over the United States of America, CDFA announced to make schematic and inclusive changes to their internal working system to benefit the black designers as well as students who aspire to be one. However, the nominations from the CDFA awards painted another picture altogether. Soon after the nomination list was out, Instagram’s infamous yet anonymous watchdog Diet Prada called out CFDA for the majority of the nominees being big-name designers with multiple awards on their shelves. What further made it uncomfortable was its lack of diversity. Nearly 250 black professionals sent a letter to CDFA and out of 15 designers in the womenswear, menswear, and accessories designer categories, only Kerby Jean-Raymond and Telfar Clemens, founder of Telfar, were Black. Also, CDFA chairman Tom Ford was nominated for both Womenswear and Menswear Designer of the Year giving room for conflict of interest. WOW!



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Breaking the stereotypes, barriers, and its 128-year-old history, Vogue Magazine featured cisgender Harry Styles as its FIRST solo male coverstar on its December issue. Decked up in dressy gowns, breezy skirts and gender-fluid attire, the singer-songwriter de-categorized ‘clothes for men and women’ with his stunning photoshoot. Although Vogue has been pushing its limits to break the boundaries, seems like there’s a long way to go. While many praised Harry and the glossy for challenging the gender-fashion norms, others called out the magazine for keeping it a ‘white cisgender man-centric’ when the spotlight could have been given to a movement-relevant trans-person. 

Gender non-conforming writer and performance artist Alok Vaid Menon penned down a strong note saying trans femmes of color are shunned for doing the same and were ‘imprisoned by cross-dressing legislations for decades’. Though this cover marked as a stepping stone for breaking the barriers around gender-fluid dressing and representation, it looks like it’s still a long journey ahead!


While Rihanna and her Savage X Fenty along with many other brands garnered praise for stepping up their game in the BLM Movement, Off-White’s founder and Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection designer, Virgil Abloh faced a massive backlash for his activities in June. Virgil made a $50 donation to Fempower that set the internet on fire. While one user called this act embarrassing, others stated the fact that he makes double the money he donated by just selling a pair of socks.

After facing the wrath of the internet, Virgil cleared up the air around his minimal contribution to the movement. “I can understand your frustration if you think my contributions were limited to $50. Purely false when it comes to the total. I have donated $20,500 to bail funds and other causes related to this movement,” he said.

Fashion never comes without its own set of drama and we are reminded of this every year! Which controversy made your eyes pop and jaws drop?