Fashion is often about taking risks, but Burberry concedes it went too far with a hoodie that featured a noose around the neck during London Fashion Week.
In an unusual move, Liz Kennedy, the model who wore the controversial item on the runway, led the charge against it afterward, saying her backstage objections to the accessory were ignored. The retailer has since removed the item 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 Tempest,” said Burberrry CEO Marco Gobbetti in a statement provided to Fortune. “I called Ms. Kennedy to apologize as soon as I became aware of this on Monday and we immediately removed the product and all images that featured it. Though the design was inspired by the marine theme that ran throughout the collection, it was insensitive and we made a mistake. The experience Ms. Kennedy describes does not reflect who we are and our values. We will reflect on this, learn from it and put in place all necessary actions to ensure it does not happen again.”
Kennedy, in describing her objections to the accessory, didn’t hold back in an Instagram post.
“Suicide is not fashion,” she wrote. “It is not glamorous nor edgy. … [chief creative officer] 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.?”
Kennedy went on to say the noose design dredged up memories of a family member who had committed suicide. When she tried to address her concerns before the show, she says, she was told to “write a letter” and “it’s fashion. Nobody cares about what’s going on in your personal life so just keep it to yourself”
“I am so deeply sorry for the distress that has been caused as a result of one of the pieces in my show,” said Tisci in a statement. “While the design was inspired by a nautical theme, I realize that it was insensitive. 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.”
Burberry is hardly the only company apologizing for a faux pas that many think should have been caught earlier of late. H&M last year had a black child model a sweatshirt with the words “Coolest Monkey in The Jungle“. Groupon issued an apology after a racial slur was used to describe boots. And the Gap found itself in trouble for printing shirts with an incomplete map of China last year.