For decades, Palestinians have been wearing the keffiyeh - the checkered patterned scarf - as a symbol of nationalism and resistance, and a reminder of their often-forgotten plight.

But, British multinational fashion retailer Topshop decided to reduce the keffiyeh to a fashion item.  

The retailer has gone under fire for selling a jumpsuit called a "Scarf Playsuit" that mimics the Palestinian keffiyeh, with similar texture and the same checkered print. 

"Get festival-ready with this cute playsuit in monochrome scarf print with knot tie neck detail," the description reads. "Team with sliders for perfect summer-cool."

Many have called out the retailer for cultural appropriation, accusing it of undermining the endless struggle and resistance symbolized by the keffiyeh:

Exploiting and commercializing an important cultural symbol is not OK

"So much meaning and spilled blood"

"Get festive-ready" for a wild Intifada?

Computer engineers, where's our 'culture appropriation' button?

The price makes it all the more offensive

Here's a cringeworthy image:

Topshop has not yet responded to demands to remove the jumpsuit from stock

The shop is no stranger to cultural appropriation

Like many international retailers, Topshop has been accused of reducing cultural symbols and patterns to commercial fashion pieces on several occasions, by commercializing Native American heritage, for instance. 

This isn't the first time fashion designers exploit the keffiyeh

Israeli designer Dodo Baror previously drew criticism for launching a fashion line based entirely on the Palestinian keffiyeh, featuring skirts, dresses and kimonos with the keffiyeh's signature print. 

While this is considered cultural appropriation regardless of the designer's nationality, the fact that she is Israeli adds insult to the injury and makes her designs all the more offensive.

Still, the cultural theft was disregarded by many, and some fashion websites considered Baror's designs "all the hype" last summer. 

Why does cultural appropriation matter?

In short, cultural appropriation is the adoption of the elements of one culture by members of another culture without permission. But, it is often considered as misappropriation that goes beyond simple cultural exchange. 

"A deeper understanding of cultural appropriation also refers to a particular power dynamic in which members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group," writes Maisha Johnson in Everyday Feminism.  

Through such an unbalanced power dynamic, marginalized groups do not have a say in whether or not the dominating culture adopts elements from its heritage. So, privileged people flaunt fashion, symbols, language and cultural songs belonging to a culture that has faced or still faces violence, oppression and discrimination. 

This allows market giants to trivialize significant historical context and profit from the creations of the original culture, without asking for permission or giving credit where it's due.