Fashion brand Burberry has apologized for showcasing a hoodie that featured a noose around the neck during its show at London Fashion Week.
The retailer said it has removed the item from its collection, after criticism from one of its own models led to an online backlash.
“We are deeply sorry for the distress caused by one of the products that featured in our A/W 2019 runway collection,” Marco Gobbetti, Burberry chief executive officer, said in a statement provided to CNN.
“Though the design was inspired by the marine theme that ran throughout the collection, it was insensitive and we made a mistake,” he added.
The design was criticized by model Liz Kennedy, who featured in the show but claimed her concerns about the use of a noose were dismissed.
“Suicide is not fashion,” Kennedy wrote on Instagram. “It is beyond me how you could let a look resembling a noose hanging from a neck out on the runway.”
“I had asked to speak to someone about it but the only thing I was told to do was to write a letter,” Kennedy added.
Kennedy also mentioned the “horrifying history of lynching” that the noose shaped evoked, a connection that was also picked up on by critics on social media.
She also claimed that staff were joking about the design before the show, while hanging the noose from a ceiling.
“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,'” she said.
Gobbetti said he called Kennedy to apologize after becoming aware of the product.
The UK’s Mental Health Foundation was also critical of the concept, and said the incident demonstrated the need for fashion houses to examine their creative processes.
“It is disappointing to see this representation in our day and age considering how much ground we have covered in mental health in recent years,” said Antonis Kousoulis, associate director of research at the charity.
“I was glad to hear that the fashion house apologized and pulled the item, but, more generally, I would like to see more diversity in the creative process,” Kousoulis added.
“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.”
The item featured in Burberry’s Autumn/Winter collection, named “Tempest,” which debuted in London on Sunday.
The show’s designer, Burberry’s chief creative officer Riccardo Tisci, added: “I am so deeply sorry for the distress that has been caused as a result of one of the pieces in my show on Sunday.”
“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,” he added.