MAC! What Were You Thinking?
Notorious for their collaborations – some great, some not so – MAC’s collaboration with Rodarte is truly a ‘did not think it through’ situation. Fashion is so quick to disappear up its backside sometimes, with incomprehensible inspirations, but beauty in general tends to tell it how it is – if it’s a Disney collaboration, there will be Mickey Mouse somewhere, not a distant, vague set of mouse-ears-by-candlelight inference. This isn’t always the case; I’ve been presented sometimes with an overworked inspiration that even the most seasoned critic would struggle to find a connection that your average beauty consumer can relate to.
Back at MAC base-camp though, someone, somewhere thought that Rodarte’s horribly macabre inspiration of Mexican town Juarez, notable for its unbelievably high murder count, was a fabulously commercial idea. Juarez is also noted for ‘feminicidios’ – female homicides and las muertas de Juarez (the dead women of Juarez). These murders remain largely unsolved. The fact that the desperately underpaid female factory workers have probably never even heard of MAC, never mind Rodarte, let alone be able to afford a slice of either is adding insult to injury.
Rodarte (Kate and Laura Mulleavy) took their ‘inspiration’ for their 2010 Fall fashion range from ‘lines of women workers making their way to factory jobs in the middle of the night.’ The same women, let’s remember, who on financial grounds will never own even a MAC eyeliner. Who in their right minds thinks that this is a look that should be reflected for commercial purposes? Oh, that’s right. MAC. I’ve taken details from an article by www.colorlines.com – well worth a read, who have already shown statements from both parties falling over themselves to apologise. Other research finds that women who work in the factories do so under terrible conditions, with some required to show ‘used’ tampons for three months to prove they aren’t pregnant. How any of this – and believe me, I am sparing with the details for they go on and on – can be used for a commercial beauty or fashion range is just beyond me. Brands flock to Juarez to set up factories because Juarez commands low wages, tax breaks and low freight costs, thus inflating the profit margin.
Juarez is a city in deep poverty; base to a mass of multi-national owned factories – Johnson & Johnson being one – it’s where drug wars are won and lost to huge human cost. If you look at the make-up, there is an ethereal landscape theme that’s almost romantic, until you realize the source is a landscape of hideous oppression, violence and fear. In my view, that’s bordering on criminal to try and make a buck from such a back story.
So, to MAC’s statement (again taken from www.colorlines.com) .
‘M•A•C Cosmetics Statement:
We understand that product names in the M•A•C Rodarte collection have offended some of our consumers and fans. This was never our intent and we are very sorry. We are listening carefully to the comments posted and are grateful to those of you who have brought your concerns to the forefront of our attention. M•A•C will give a portion of the proceeds from the M•A•C Rodarte collection to help those in need in Juarez. We are diligently investigating the best way to do this. Please be assured that we will keep you posted on the details regarding our efforts.’
First problem, ‘a portion’ of sales. Personally, I feel they should either withdraw the range entirely or donate the entire profits to charities that can do real work for those in crisis in Juarez. How do you count an appropriate portion from something so inappropriate? Second, it’s not just the product names (Factory, Ghost Town etc), it’s the whole collaboration, from the creative strategy meeting where it was touted as a ‘great idea’ to the end profit making product.
Rodarte’s statement is a waffle about creative development and a ‘desert palette’. They’re ‘truly saddened’ about injustice in Juarez. I suspect their sorrow is much heightened by the fact that the ill-conceived inspiration is causing alarm amongst anyone with the slightest conscience.
There’s just nothing beautiful about any of this, and, let’s not forget that MAC, owned by Lauder, couldn’t, in my view, even have done a basic Wiki search on the back story, or if they did, it beggars belief that they’d think it a collaboration with a nano-particle of conscience or sensitivity.
It’s not just me that feels consumers should be informed about this calamitous collaboration; other bloggers – notably,
share similar personal views.
It’s not for me to judge on whether you do or don’t buy into the collection, but it’s worth bearing in mind that in the days before blogs, we’d likely be completely oblivious to branding ethics before making a purchase.