Pricey clothes, cheap models.

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Via Hypebeast; Japanese streetwear maker Visvim recently took a trip to Cuba for a spread by Sense Magazine (more photos after the jump, see Hypebeast for the shoot). This is the first time I’ve heard of Visvim, but according to the post, they take cultural influences from around the world for their designs. I have never been an overly conservative Cuban, nor is anybody in my family, but this concept just does not sit right with me.

 

Our own relations with Cuba aside, the rest of the world has never been shy about taking advantage of the island’s natural beauty for photo shoots and films. Yet, something seems wrong about dressing up Cuban people in clothes they could never own from a place they’ve never seen. I am aware that that is exactly what fashion shoots are all about. You find an attractive person, dress them up, take their picture, then take your clothes back. But what about when the subject you are playing dress-up with is so oppressively poor that the chic clothes you put on their back and fine shoes you put on their feet are worth more than they will earn all year? In fact, do you think Visvim payed their Cuban models a rate comporable to what a model would get in Japan, or the US or even Mexico? HIGHLY doubtful.

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Perhaps I’m over-analyzing it, but to me it’s a rich, modern company taking advantage of people in a dire situation for the sake of appearing avante-garde. After all, what Cuban influence do you exactly see demonstrated in these shots anyway? Is it the stylish over the shoulder bags, or the loafers? Perhaps the sharp prep-school jacket with the crest on the front, from one of the state sponsored schools, no doubt.

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 Let me be clear, my issue is not with people photographing and finding beauty in Cuba. Far from it. My issue is that the whole setup makes Cuba look like something it is NOT.  A stylish, cool place to live.

To read an interview with Visvim’s Creative Director Hiroki Nakamura go to Complex.

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~ by Joel on February 13, 2009.

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