A product itself carries cultural implications. These cultural implications, not only cause controversy, but also affect products and users when they encountered different cultures. Earlier in this February, the French sporting goods brand Decathlon had planned to launch their new products—running hijab, which faced fierce opposed before it began to sell. Opponents believe that a running hijab runs counter to the value of liberty, and that as a French brand, Decathlon should not launch a product that restricts women.
Decathlon responded on Twitter,
“Our goal is simple: to offer suitable sports products, without judgment.”
Under the premise that wearers choose to wear it out of their free wills, a hijab should first be regarded as a culture of one’s belief rather than religious ritual. Since the restaurant offers different foods for people of different faiths, then why Decathlon can't offer different costumes for people of different faiths. Freedom is not what others imposed on you and tell you that what they believe freedom is. This boycott is a cultural oppression in the name of liberation – the freedom of practicing one’s belief. (Speaking of the oppression of clothing, Paris had banned women wearing trousers ‘cause they were men’s clothes!)
From a Western perspective, hijab is a symbol of concealment, oppression, and restraint. However, in a free country, wearing hijab stands for choices. Choose to be a vegetarian, choose to go to church on Sunday, and choose to express your culture. Prejudice against Islamic culture magnifies the negative meaning of hijab’s religious implications. This will not only affect the release of a product from Decathlon, but also pull designers and suppliers back from developing such products and thus fail to provide consumers with better products.
The design of the product, considering both function and culture, provides more choices for different groups rather than serving a single culture. The product is designed to meet the needs of people. Without infringing others’ rights, whether the need exists or not and whether it is justified or not should not be determined by others. This is why product designers are constantly looking for undiscovered demands and unfulfilled needs from diverse perspectives.
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