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Burberry apologises for "noose" hoodie and withdraws it from collection

Lauretta Roberts
20 February 2019

Burberry has issued an apology for featuring a hoodie in its London Fashion Week show with a noose-style neck fastening, after a model who walked in the show said it glamourised suicide.

Model Liz Kennedy said her family had been directly affected by suicide and that other models and stylists had been joking about the garment backstage. In an Instagram post she said she had raised her concerns backstage at the show [but does not specify with whom] and was told “it’s fashion. Nobody cares about what’s going on in your personal life so just keep it to yourself”.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bt_e9OpgGG3/

Upon learning of the concerns Burberry CEO Marco Gobbetti and Chief Creative Officer Riccardo Tisci both apologised and said the garment, which they said was inspired by the nautical theme of "The Tempest" show, would not be sold in shops.

“Though the design was inspired by the marine theme that ran throughout the collection, it was insensitive and we made a mistake," Gobbetti said adding that he had called Kennedy to apologies for the offence caused.

Tisci said it "was never my intention to upset anyone. It does not reflect my values nor Burberry’s. I will make sure that this does not happen again."

Burberry is not the only fashion house to cause offence with insensitive garments. Gucci was recently called out for its so-called black balaclava jumper which covered the lower half of the face and featured bright red lips. Critics said it resembled "black face" and was offensive and it was immediately withdrawn from sale.

Gucci

The Italian house immediately apologised and said it had drawn inspiration from ski masks and performance artist Leigh Bowery in creating the design.

Meanwhile Prada has appointed a diversity council after it was accused of producing items (keyrings and store displays) that also resembled blackface, but which it said were intended to be alien creatures. The business has appointed sculptor Theaster Gates and filmmaker Ava DuVernay to elevate "voices of colour" within its organisation and to avoid culturally insensitive products being produced.

Speaking to CNN The Mental Health Foundation associate director of research at the charity for England and Wales Antonis Kousoulis said fashion houses needed to introduce more diversity into the creative process to avoid such incidents happening in future.

“I was glad to hear that [Burberry] apologised and pulled the item, but, more generally, I would like to see more diversity in the creative process. Highly influential global brands like Burberry certainly have a role to play in giving a voice to diverse views, respecting people with lived experience, and being role models,” Kousoulis said.

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