Burberry is the latest fashion house under fire for a controversial design the brand sent down the runway: a hoodie with what looked identical to a noose hanging around the neck in place of strings.
The brand stated the rope was meant to channel a marine theme used throughout the show, but people voiced objections to the design on social media. Some expressed concerns of racism, while others were concerned about the message it sent young consumers battling depression and other mental health issues. The item has since been removed from Burberry’s 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 CEO, said in a statement.
Burberry CCO Riccardo Tisci echoed the apology, adding that “while the design was inspired by a nautical theme,” the piece was “insensitive.”
“It was never my intention to upset anyone Tisci continued. “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.”
Much of the discussion began after model Liz Kennedy, who wore the garment during the brand’s show at London Fashion Week, posted about her experience on Instagram. Kennedy shared that she raised concerns about the garment during a fitting, but that she was quickly dismissed and told to “write a letter” to express her concerns.
“How could anyone overlook this and think it would be [OK] to do this especially in a line dedicated to young girls and youth,” Kennedy wrote on Instagram. “The impressionable youth. Not to mention the rising suicide rates worldwide. Let’s not forget about the horrifying history of lynching either.”
“The experience Ms. Kennedy describes does not reflect who we are and our values,” added Gobbetti. “We will reflect on this, learn from it and put in place all necessary actions to ensure it does not happen again.”
In the last few months, several fashion brands have been at the center of controversies surrounding insensitive designs. Gucci pulled a turtleneck sweater from the market after consumers complained that the item resembled blackface. A few days later, the brand released a statement explaining that it had a long-term plan in place to improve diversity and cultural awareness within the brand.
Prada was also called out for store designs that included black figurines resembling monkeys with thick red lips. Weeks later, Prada worked to make amends, launching a diversity and inclusion council led by director Ava DuVernay.