Dsquared2 under fire for #Dsquaw women's fashion collection

Canadian designers Dean and Dan Caten, the brothers behind Dsquared2, unveiled ​their latest work Monday at Milan Fashion Week, and have since come under fire for their designs and for dubbing their collection #Dsquaw.

Racist term used to describe Canadian designers' latest collection unveiled this week

This image appeared on Dsquared2's Facebook page as part of the #Dsquaw collection. The title has since been replaced with #dsquare. (Facebook)

Canadian designers Dean and Dan Caten, the brothers behind Dsquared2​, unveiled ​their latest work Monday at Milan Fashion Week, and have since come under fire for their clothes and for dubbing their collection #Dsquaw.

The designers, who claimed the 2015-16 collection was partly inspired by "Canadian Indian tribes" according to their website, have since removed all references to #Dsquaw from their website and their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts. 

The term "squaw" comes from the Algonquin words for woman, includingikwe, iskwew, and skwe. 

"Its pronunciation was corrupted to 'squaw' and its present negative connotation resulted," said Patricia Ningewance, an Ojibwa language expert. 

On its website, Dsquared2 describes its 2015 fall-winter women's collection as "The enchantment of Canadian Indian tribes. The confident attitude of the British aristocracy. In a captivating play on contrasts: an ode to America's native tribes meets the noble spirit of Old Europe."
A model wears one of the dresses from Dsquared's controversial collection, which debuted on Monday at Milan Fashion Week. (DSquared)

Lisa Charleyboy, owner of Urban Native Girl magazine, calls it: "The glamorization of colonization."

The dress in the collection that really upset Charleyboy was one that looks like a bridal gown, with references that could be indigenous. It was paired with a man's army coat over top. 

In another example from the brothers who made their mark in the Toronto fashion scene, a handbag described as an "ethnic makeover" was captioned "Twin Peaks goes eskimeaks" on the company's Instagram feed. ​

"Eski" is a reference to the term "eskimo," which was a word applied to the Inuit and is no longer used — unless you are a CFL sports team. 

The Caten brothers did not return a request for comment.

The brothers won an outstanding achievement award in 2014 from the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards, but a request for comment from the organization was not returned.

Two weeks ago during New York Fashion Week, U.K.-based fashion label  KTZ was accused of copying a dress from Bethany Yellowtail, a Northern Cheyenne/Crow designer from Montana. Twitter erupted with support for Yellowtail.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.