Texas fashion designer Kendra Scott is in hot water over claims of cultural appropriation. She introduced her new collaboration with Wrangler called Yellow Rose by Kendra Scott on January 17.
Kendra Scott is well-known as a designer of mostly costume jewelry. Wrangler, of course, is the western clothing company. The collection includes jewelry and clothing. The press release states that it “celebrates ranch culture, the natural environment of the Southwest and the spirit of its hard-working people.” Sounds good, right? Well, there’s a catch.
Reaction to her new collection came quickly on social media, specifically Tik Tok and Instagram. Kendra created a kerfuffle by including faux turquoise in some of the jewelry pieces. Native Americans and people who are fans of authentic turquoise lashed out. Critics said she used cheaper stones that look like turquoise but are not.
Pieces include a $139 embroidered denim dress, a $110 statement ring and $110 bolo necklace, each made of variegated turquoise magnesite, a gemstone that resembles turquoise when dyed but is more affordable.
“Buying from the Kendra Scott x Wrangler collection is like buying Navajo pearls from temu,” one woman posted on TikTok, referring to the online shopping site that sells heavily discounted items. Another asked, “Would you buy a Mona Lisa print for the price of the original?”
Social media users criticized the collection’s use of turquoise magnesite rather than genuine turquoise while charging what some said were exorbitant prices. Many urged shoppers to seek out and support Native artisans.
It’s the turquoise magnesite that has critics upset. An art historian posted a brief history on Tik Tok and called the jewelry “a knock-off culture.”
Art historian Seema Rao said on TikTok the uproar over the collection is not just because of “knock-off turquoise,” but that it is a “knock-off a culture.”
Native Americans began mining and using turquoise for ceremonial purposes roughly 1,200 years before the Spanish arrived in the Americas, according to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The stone represents water and sky, bountiful harvests, health and protection.
Still today, many indigenous tribes still have working artists, Rao said. “Why waste your hard-earned money to get a double fake when you could support an artist and get a real piece of jewelry?” she asked.
When the collection was announced, Kendra Scott explained that she intentionally used variegated turquoise magnesite embellishments and embroidered rose motif “to provide sophisticated western looks for everyone from the urban cowgirl to the seasoned ranch hand.” Some of the proceeds from the collection will go to supporting National FFA, formerly known as Future Farmers of America. Scott will donate 20% of the proceeds from sales of the $70 corded bracelet and Wrangler is donating $10,000 to National FFA to support scholarships.
Kendra Scott posted a message on Instagram to smooth things over.
“Sorry for any confusion regarding our materials in our Yellow Rose jewelry,” read the post. “We use materials at an accessible price point for our fashion jewelry, such as variegated turquoise magnesite — a genuine magnesite stone that has been dyed a turquoise color. Our demi-fine and fine jewelry collections feature materials including genuine turquoise.”
In other words, she wants to appeal to average women who wear upscale costume jewelry. That’s her brand. She uses reasonably-priced materials so that the cost per piece is kept down.
Is Kendra Scott guilty of cultural appropriation? No. She’s celebrating western living and what she calls ranch life. And, Wrangler is about as American as it comes.
“My heart feels most at home on the ranch and there’s nothing that suits ranch life better than Wrangler,” Scott said in a news release. The collaboration helps “celebrate the spirit of the American West.”
Native Americans don’t have exclusive rights to turquoise. C’mon. This seems like this is making a mountain out of a mole hill. It’s silly for critics to say she’s knocking off Native American culture because of a ring or necklace. Turquoise jewelry is very popular in the southwest. Real turquoise or not, I’m sure her followers and loyal customers will not be concerned about cultural appropriation when purchasing her new collection. Nor should they be. The perpetually outraged on social media can just move along.