British luxury fashion house, Burberry came under fire on Sunday after one of its models was seen walking the ramp in a hoodie featuring a noose. Dubbed as the Burberry suicide hoodie, the sweatshirt was modelled at the London Fashion Week and immediately caught the attention of critics and models alike.
Own Model First To Criticise Burberry Suicide Hoodie
The issue was first flagged off by one of its own models, who reportedly raised objection to the design before and after the show. In a long post on Instagram Liz Kennedy said: "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," she said.
"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," she added.
Kennedy went on to say, "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," she added.
"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," Kennedy wrote.
Burberry Apologises For Their Insensitive Mistake
Soon after Kennedy's post went viral, Burberry boss Marco Gobbetti, reportedly responded to the controversy with a statement.
“We are deeply sorry for the distress caused by one of the products that featured in our A/W 2019 runway collection.” (...) “Though the design was inspired by the marine theme that ran throughout the collection, it was insensitive and we made a mistake,” the statement read.
Riccardo Tisci, Burberry’s creative director, also apologised. He said “while the design was inspired by a nautical theme, I realize that it was insensitive."
Mental Illness Is Not A Joke, Burberry
The brand shared that the Burberry suicide hoodie was part of the collection called Tempest. It showcased "rebellious youths" and Ticci even dedicated the collection to the 'youth of today.'
While the designer wanted to a show for the youth, this particular Burberry suicide hoodie represented a total irony. Neither did it reflect the brand, nor the thought behind it.
Instead, it brought out the urgency with which we need to sensitise ourselves with the issue of mental illness. Because as Kennedy said, "Suicide is not fashion," and we believe that mental illness shouldn't be taken lightly either.
A World Health Organisation (WHO) report suggests that approximately 1 million people die of suicide each year.
"In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide. Suicide is now among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 (male and female). Suicide attempts are up to 20 times more frequent than completed suicides," notes WHO.
Those suffering from mental illnesses need special care and attention, and this isn't a matter that should be trivialised.
Incidentally, with this move, Burberry has become yet another brand to come under fire for their insensitive design. Earlier, Gucci pulled out a jumper that "resembled blackface."