As It Happens

Controversial Canadian designers behind #Dsquaw to make Olympic gear

Dsquared2 will be designing Team Canada's gear for the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio. You may remember when the fashion label came under fire last year for marketing a collection that was offensive to the indigenous community.
Dsquared2 designers Dean and Dan Caten came under fire last year for their collection called #Dsquaw. (Left: Facebook, Right: Twitter/Hudson's Bay)

Dean and Dan Caten — the Toronto-born twins behind the fashion label Dsquared2 — will be designing Team Canada's uniform for the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio. The partnership was announced by the Hudson's Bay Co. on Thursday. 

Canada's Dan Caten, left, and his twin brother Dean Caten, of Toronto, Ont., will be responsible for designing the country's next Olympic uniforms, Hudson's Bay announced on Thursday. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

"I was surprised to see that they were representing Canada," Sage Paul tells As it Happens host Carol Off. "I just thought here we go again." 

Paul is the co-founder of the Setsune Indigenous Fashion Incubator, an organization that promotes indigenous women in the fashion industry.  

Dsquared2 came under fire last March for their collection called "Dsquaw." The use of the word "squaw," an offensive term to describe indigenous women, was met with anger and accusations of cultural appropriation. 

"It's incredibly racist and offensive," says Paul. "It was a word that was used to put down and belittle indigenous women."

At the time, Dsquared2's website described the 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."

Paul says all she hears from that description is "a bunch of buzzwords."

"It romanticizes who we are as indigenous people. It just makes us seem like we're these mythical beings and it's offensive. It makes me feel like I don't exist as a human."

Last March, this image appeared on Dsquared2's Facebook page with the hashtag "dsquaw." (Facebook)

Paul isn't calling on Olympic organizers to cancel their collaboration with Dsquared2. 

"If they are to go ahead, it would be great to see some sort of collaboration with an indigenous designer or with the community. You know, some sort of meaningful connection that is really authentic and true from our perspective." 

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