“We are deeply sorry for the distress caused by one of the products that featured in our A/W 2019 runway collection Tempest,” said CEO Marco Gobbetti in a statement provided to Global News on Wednesday.
In a separate statement, creative director Riccardo Tisci said, “while the design was inspired by a nautical theme, I realize that it was insensitive.”
The piece, which was part of Tisci’s second line for Burberry, has also been pulled from the brand’s FW19 runway collection.
The outfit sparked backlash when model Liz Kennedy took to Instagram to share her unease about the accessory, saying it brought to mind images of suicide and lynching.
“It is beyond me how you could let a look resembling a noose hanging from a neck out on the runway,” Kennedy wrote on Sunday. “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 added that she was disturbed by the trivial manner in which the noose and the topic of suicide were treated backstage.
“They briefly hung one from the ceiling (trying to figure out the knot) and were laughing about it in the dressing room,” said Kennedy.
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Kennedy, who walked in the show but did not model the sweater, said that she left her fitting “feeling extremely triggered” and “feeling as though I was right back where I was when I was going through an experience with suicide in my family.”
When the model tried to tell the brand about her discomfort prior to the show, she was met with an invitation to send the brand a letter outlining her complaints.
“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 keep it to yourself,'” Kennedy said.
On Wednesday, Kennedy posted an update to Instagram. “Since my post, called me to address the situation, and I think the response by Burberry and their team since then is commendable,” she wrote.
“I believe this is a learning moment and they will think about these things more in-depth moving forward,” Kennedy continued.
“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.”
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The controversy comes just five days after Katy Perry pulled two pairs of shoes resembling blackface from her eponymous collection. Perry apologized, saying the brand’s intention was “never to inflict any pain.”
Similarly, Gucci recently went to market with a sweater resembling blackface. The product has since been removed from online and retail stores, and the fashion house apologized for the misstep.
In an effort to avoid future blunders, Gucci has since announced a four-step plan to increase diversity and representation among its employees.
The plan includes a pledge to hire with diversity in mind, the creation of a new “global director of diversity and inclusion” role, a multicultural design scholarship and a diversity workshop, which will be mandatory for all employees globally.
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.
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