Luxury fashion house Burberry showcased a hoodie with a noose around the neck at this year’s London Fashion Week, and the peculiar fashion statement sparked huge backlash on social media.
Said backlash ultimately forced the company to apologise and remove the garment from its collection.
“We are deeply sorry for the distress caused by one of the products that featured in our A/W 2019 runway collection,” Marco Gobbetti, Burberry chief executive officer, said in a statement to CNN
The controversial hoodie was part of the brand’s autumn-winter collection, titled “Tempest”, and incorporates two strings that come around the neck and tie in the chest forming the shape of a noose.
The outrage started when model Liz Kennedy, who walked in the show last Sunday but didn’t wear the highly criticised garment, took to Instagram to bash the piece of haute couture.
“Suicide is not fashion. It is not glamorous nor edgy,” she wrote in a lengthy caption articulating her disdain for the design.
“How could anyone overlook this and think it would be okay to do this especially in a line dedicated to young girls and youth. The impressionable youth. Not to mention the rising suicide rates worldwide.”
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@burberry @riccardotisci17 Suicide is not fashion. It is not glamorous nor edgy and since this show is dedicated to the youth expressing their voice, here I go. Riccardo Tisci and everyone at Burberry it is beyond me how you could let a look resembling a noose hanging from a neck out on the runway. How could anyone overlook this and think it would be okay to do this especially in a line dedicated to young girls and youth. The impressionable youth. Not to mention the rising suicide rates world wide. Let’s not forget about the horrifying history of lynching either. There are hundreds of ways to tie a rope and they chose to tie it like a noose completely ignoring the fact that it was hanging around a neck. A massive brand like Burberry who is typically considered commercial and classy should not have overlooked such an obvious resemblance. I left my fitting extremely triggered after seeing this look (even though I did not wear it myself). Feeling as though I was right back where I was when I was going through an experience with suicide in my family. Also to add in they briefly hung one from the ceiling (trying to figure out the knot) and were laughing about it in the dressing room. I had asked to speak to someone about it but the only thing I was told to do was to write a letter. I had a brief conversation with someone but all that it entailed was “it’s fashion. Nobody cares about what’s going on in your personal life so just keep it to yourself” well I’m sorry but this is an issue bigger than myself. The issue is not about me being upset, there is a bigger picture here of what fashion turns a blind eye to or does to gain publicity. A look so ignorantly put together and a situation so poorly handled. I am ashamed to have been apart of the show. #burberry. I did not post this to disrespect the designer or the brand but to simply express an issue I feel very passionate about.
“A massive brand like Burberry who is typically considered commercial and classy should not have overlooked such an obvious resemblance.”
Kennedy also went on to explain she found the symbol especially hurtful since she had to endure a case of suicide in her family.
“I left my fitting extremely triggered after seeing this look (even though I did not wear it myself) feeling as though I was right back where I was when I was going through an experience with suicide in my family. Also to add in they briefly hung one from the ceiling (trying to figure out the knot) and were laughing about it in the dressing room.”
Burberry decided to remove the hoodie from their collection after Kennedy’s Instagram post went viral.
“While the design was inspired by a nautical theme, I realize that it was insensitive,” said Burberry’s chief creative officer, Riccardo Tisci.
“It was never my intention to upset anyone. It does not reflect my values nor Burberry’s and we have removed it from the collection. I will make sure that this does not happen again.”
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I would like to address my stance on the recent Burberry collection. First, I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of support regarding the social media post I made. Riccardo Tisci’s own words about the importance of the youth having a voice were a driving force when deciding how to use mine to address this issue. I tried multiple times to handle the situation internally prior to the show and those attempts fell on deaf ears. At that point I felt that social media was the best way to address what I consider a very serious issue. My family and I were recently impacted by suicide so I know how devastating it is when someone you love decides to take their life. I’m not someone who is easily offended or triggered but I knew by the way this piece effected me, it would do the same to many others. Whether people are dealing with suicide, mental illness themselves, or someone close to them facing these issues they can’t be taken lightly. Since my post, Marco called me to address the situation. And I think the response by Burberry and their team since then is commendable. I believe this is a learning moment and they will think about these things more in-depth moving forward. The positive that has come out of this is a reminder of the power of one voice, and the good that can be done when brands are held accountable. This conversation is bigger than a look, bigger than a brand and bigger than me. It’s about raising awareness in the fashion industry that we need to be mindful of what we are producing and how the images and symbols we put impact our social norms. It was never my intention to disrespect the brand or the designer. I am grateful for the opportunities they have given me in the past and that they are listening on this issue. I also encourage you, if you feel this triggers something different within yourself, to be courageous enough to share your side of the story. We build together, we share together. It’s this AND that, not this or that.