The sisters are under fire for a since-deleted photo of a plaid shirt from their Kendall + Kylie clothing line that was posted to Instagram last week. It showed a model wearing the shirt buttoned only at the top and worn over a black bustier with black slacks and hoop earrings. These are elements of chola style, as Refinery29 notes: Women of this Mexican-American subculture are known for wearing baggy pants and flannels buttoned at the top, among other style choices like dark lip liner and thin brows.
Twitter user @Lipstickittty caught the photo before it was deleted and posted it to her feed. “@KendallJenner @KylieJenner will you ever come up with your own ideas?” she captioned her post, adding the hashtag #culturevultures.
Instagram account @theshaderoom posted the screenshot to its 10 million-plus followers soon after.
“LMFAO what are you trying to scam outta brown culture,” one user commented. “Disrespectful,” said another.
As Teen Vogue notes, the top itself isn’t the issue, but rather the styling. Non-Latino celebrities like Rihanna and Gwen Stefani have also invited criticism from the Latino community and beyond for pairing unbuttoned plaid shirts with accessories like hoop earrings, The Guardian notes.
It’s insensitive for Kendall and Kylie’s brand (or anyone else, for that matter) to commercialize a culture that isn’t their own, for their own gain ― and a marginalized culture at that.
“So many young girls want to emulate the [chola] look and have no idea of the cultural background or street politics associated with it,” model Hellabreezy, who identifies as a modern-day chola, told Vice in 2015. “It’s easy for young privileged girls to want to have the look, but when they are done dressing up in their ‘chola costume,’ they don’t have to go back home to the hood and deal with discrimination, violence, and poverty.”
The Kendall + Kylie website shows the brand’s other tops styled on models, but the page for the plaid shirt currently shows the item on its own. Teen Vogue published a second, catalog-style shot that shows the shirt fashioned chola-style, just as it is in the Instagram post.
Kendall + Kylie has yet to respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Previously, in 2015, actress Amandla Stenberg called Kylie out for posting a photo with her hair in cornrows. “When u appropriate black features and culture but fail to use ur position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards ur wigs instead of police brutality or racism,” Stenberg wrote in response to the photo.
And last month, the two women faced a lawsuit for T-shirts that showed their own faces layered over those of music icons including rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. The women reportedly never asked permission to use the artists’ photos, and one of the photographers said it was “particularly problematic” to be associated with Kendall because of her controversial Pepsi ad from a few months earlier. Smalls’ mother called the shirts “exploitation at its worst,” and the sisters publicly pledged to learn from the incident.
Additional reporting by Carolina Moreno.