At one point or another, most of us have been subject to the cruel and unusual punishment of corporate team-building exercises. Some of us have been bored to tears by games of two truths and a lie, others have almost been killed in freak trust fall accidents.
But at Topshop, a simple afternoon in a conference room is not enough — not for the buying team anyway. The Telegraph reports that the British brand’s 14 assistant buyers went on an excursion to Sussex last month, presumably to get in touch with this fall’s hottest trend: Native American everything. On Topshop’s blog, Inside-Out, there’s a full accounting of the trip, plus pictures of the ladies “glamping, not camping.” From the blog:
“Our assistant buyers went to Sussex last week for a spot of Navaho-themed fun! They had their own field of gorgeous handcrafted tipis decked out with sheepskins, navaho rugs and lots of cushions. On Thursday morning, after a big breakfast cooked on the open fire, they lolled around on multicoloured rugs in the sun and went on a mass Topshop cycle-ride through the neighbouring fields!”
We’re kinda stunned. Not even just kinda stunned, but fully stunned. We can’t figure out why or how or who approved this trip, or how anyone in Topshop’s public relations office thought it would be a good idea to post pictures of a healthy portion of its staff wearing misguided interpretations of American Indian costumes. And to belittle the culture in this way — to suggest that you can’t learn anything more from the Navaho nation than how to barbecue and lay out in the sun, and possibly make a decent pair of fringed suede boots — is, well, just super insensitive, almost as bad as Clemson University students having ghetto-themed parties a few years ago. Honestly, what did these women actually learn on this trip?
But the commenters articulated this frustration better than we could:
You do realize this is incredibly crass and offensive, right?
Posted by: Raven | August 05, 2010 at 08:01 PM
An excellent and educational read if you’re interested in Native American culture.
Posted by: hannah | August 05, 2010 at 09:18 PM
This is kind of insensitive… Not intentionally so, I don’t doubt, but, er, you should probably think about things like that on what is essentially a PR site.
Posted by: MJ | August 09, 2010 at 02:50 PM
Truer words have never been spoken. Maybe Topshop should hire one of these commenters. They all have a lot more insight than the people who organized this trip.
[Ed Note: We’ve reached out to Topshop’s UK press office for comment, but haven’t heard back yet. We’ll keep you posted.]