STYLE

Canadian-helmed DSquared2 faces backlash over new fashion line dubbed #dsquaw

03/04/2015 03:27 EST | Updated 05/04/2015 05:59 EDT
MILAN - The Canadian-helmed label DSquared2 is facing a backlash over a new fashion line that was being marketed with the name #dsquaw.

Toronto-born twin designers Dean and Dan Caten, who are behind the Milan-based label, unveiled their latest collection at the city's Fashion Week on Monday night.

A series of posts on the duo's Twitter page and the label's Instagram page made use of the hashtag #dsquaw in reference to the new line.

The hashtag — which is a play on the label name — incorporates a term offensive to aboriginal women.

The posts have since been deleted.

Patricia Mills, who is an expert in Canadian First Nations rights and titles, says "squaw" is a derogatory term for a First Nations woman.

"It was used extensively in the 19th century to make reference to women (alone) on the street who were of Indian ancestry or First Nation ancestry," Mills, an adjunct professor in Mining Engineering at the University of British Columbia, said in a phone interview.

"Aboriginal women are very independent people, so it would be normal for them to be on the street. But for guys, for European people, it was different for women to be so independent."

Several Twitter users expressed anger at the use of the term, with some even asking retailers not to purchase items from DSquared2's new line — and threatening to boycott stores that do.

On DSquared2's website, the description of the collection opens with the sentence: "The enchantment of Canadian Indian tribes. The confident attitude of the British aristocracy."

It goes on to describe the new line as a "captivating play on constrasts: an ode to America's native tribes meets the noble spirit of Old Europe."

Emails sent to media representatives for DSquared2 requesting comment were not immediately returned.

At the helm of DSquared2 for two decades, the award-winning Catens have achieved significant international success. They've also been honoured with a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.

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