Luxury brands might be promoting culturally insensitive clothing on purpose

Gucci, Prada and Burberry accused of offensive fashion

More stories from Hannah Angell


Photo by Can Stock Photo

Select luxury brands are in hot water after recent scandals

High-end luxury brands — Gucci, Prada and Burberry — were called out for promoting insensitive clothing. Cultural appropriation and insensitivity is, unfortunately, nothing new in the world of luxury.

Being called out for insensitivity and appropriation is nothing new for Gucci.

The brand worked with artist Katy Perry for a spring collection. Two styles from her collection were removed because they received backlash. The pair of shoes had exaggerated red lips, a triangle nose and large eyes on the Nappa leather, the design evoked resemblance of blackface imagery. The image embodies 19th century minstrel shows that mocked African-Americans and has a history in fashion.

I believe apologies should be as loud as the offense, and just a tweet should not suffice. With these accusations, one would think companies would stop producing offensive clothing.

In an interview with WWD, Miuccia Prada discussed the status of cultural appropriation in fashion.

“People want respect because now there is talk of cultural appropriation, but this is the foundation of fashion, as it has always been the basis of art, of everything,” Prada said. “How can we know all cultures? The Chinese protest, then the Sikh, then Mexicans, then Afro-Americans. But how can you know the details of each single culture so well when there can be 100 different cultures in every country?”

After the racist accusations against Gucci, Rapper 50 Cent was recorded burning his Gucci collection. 50 Cent’s video caused social media to flood with comments about Gucci’s allegations, creating more talk about the company.

Along with Gucci, Prada has recently resurfaced racist images in their fashion lines. People went to social media to point out a monkey keychain appearing to be racist. The high-end brand used the imagery on keychains for the Pradamagalia collection.

Prada went to Twitter for an apology.

“They are imaginary creatures not intended to have any reference to the real world and certainly not blackface,” the tweet said. “#Prada group never had the intention of offending anyone and we abhor all forms of the racism and racist imagery. In this interest we will withdraw the characters in question from display and circulation.”

A Burberry model was seen with a hoodie with a cord tied like a noose at the Autumn/Winter fashion week in London.

Backlash occurred after model Liz Kennedy stated, “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. Not to mention the rising suicide rates worldwide. Let’s not forget about the horrifying history of lynching either.”

After explaining Kennedy’s personal experience in her family with suicide, the company reportedly stated, “nobody cares about what’s going on in your personal life so just keep it to yourself.”

Burberry CEO Marco Gobbetti stated that he later called Kennedy to apologize.

Although not everyone is eager to accept the apology and some believe the reason brands are pulling offensive imagery is to gain attention.

In today’s society, once a company posts an item deemed controversial, the item is posted on social media. Retweets and shares are spread globally with the company’s name attached.

If a reader were to search the incidence, an apology written from the company is usually what follows. If the reader accepts the apology, they might continue to the companies online store and shop. Are these incidents genuinely on accident or are they a marketing plan to increase sales? Or do boycotting companies and social media outrage increase company clout? In today’s society, I find it hard to believe a luxury brand could be blinded by their blatant blackface or noose like fashion.  Angell can be reached at [email protected].