'White nonsense': Prada's $500 T-shirt featuring political activist Angela Davis comes under fire

Angela Davis speaks at a street rally in Raleigh, N.C., in 1974. (Photo: Getty Images)
Angela Davis speaks at a street rally in Raleigh, N.C., in 1974. (Photo: Getty Images)

Prada just released a T-shirt featuring the face of a famous activist, and many are not buying it.

The brand’s SS18 collection was splashed with comic book heroines drawn by different female artists from the 1940s to today. Of this campaign, which was presented this past September, Italian designer Miuccia Prada said she was “interested in someone who can be active and present today. … Just wanting to change the world. Especially for women, because there’s so much against us, still.”

Photo: Prada
Photo: Prada
This Prada T-shirt costs $500. (Photo: Prada)
This Prada T-shirt costs $500. (Photo: Prada)

One of the female faces featured throughout the collection is that of Angela Davis, an African-American educator and activist for social justice, civil rights, and other issues like gender equality. Her name became synonymous with activism in the 1960s and ’70s. And Prada, who Women’s Wear Daily called a “politically literate, ardent feminist,” is carrying it into the current decade by putting a very recognizable comic book depiction of Davis on a T-shirt and coat.

In the image, which was the back page of a 1970 all-female comic book, It Ain’t Me Babe, Davis is rocking her signature Afro and red turtleneck, and the words “Right on!” appear in a thought bubble.

The tee just went on sale, as well as the coat version that Yara Shahidi is pictured in, but people are not buying Prada’s efforts. Why? Isn’t this a great statement? The artist responsible for the drawing certainly thinks so. “It was lovely for [Miuccia Prada] to use the Angela Davis one,” cartoonist Trina Robbins told Snobette.

But many are not sold on the price tags — $500 for a T-shirt and $1,700 for a coat — pointing out that the unattainable price contradicts Davis’s message. People are unhappy that people Davis fights for wouldn’t be able to afford the clothing, saying that Prada is capitalizing on Davis’s activism.

“Peak capitalism: a luxury brand (gross, @Prada) colonizing the image of comrade Angela Davis to sell a coat that cost more than people living in poverty earn in a month. Hell nah,” someone pointed out on Twitter. “What claim does @Prada have to Angela Davis and anything she stood for? Profiting from another’s pain is not a good look,” said another.

Others feel Prada just doesn’t care about or understand Davis’s beliefs. “I don’t see how anyone who’s read even a paragraph of Angela Davis’s work would be comfortable putting her likeness on a $1,700 Prada jacket…?” said a Twitter user. “I hate to be captain obvious here but.. it comes as no surprise to me that there is, likely, nobody at Prada who has really read ANY of Angela Davis’ work.”

Then there are those who just think that Davis, now 74, won’t approve and are worried that she won’t see any of the profit from Prada using her likeness.

So, if you agree with the argument (or simply don’t want to break the bank) but like the design and want to rock Davis’s inspiring expression, you have options.

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