Burberry's latest collection features a noose on their hoodie, which is at the very least tone deaf to fashion's problem with suicide

Burberry's "insensitive" hoodie has been removed from its collection
Burberry's "insensitive" hoodie has been removed from its collection

It took model Liz Kennedy raising concerns about a questionable hoodie on the Burberry runway for the luxury fashion brand to recognise its apparent oversight. 

Burberry Group’s CEO Marco Gobbetti and the Chief Creative Ricardo Tisci have apologised for the “insensitive” hoodie. According to BBC, Ricardo said the design was inspired by a nautical theme but added “I realise that it was insensitive”.

READ MORE: "My hope is to start a conversation about depression that’ll be reflective of exactly what’s happening" – Bonnie Mbuli 

Liz took to Instagram to voice her concerns. “How could anyone overlook this and think it would be okay to do this especially in a line dedicated to young girls and youth [sic],” says Liz in her post.

She mentions that suicide is not fashion and highlighted that the way the hoodie was tied also resembles lynching. Liz said she was left triggered after seeing the hoodie.

View this post on Instagram

@burberry @riccardotisci17 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. 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. 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. 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.

A post shared by ?? (@liz.kennedy_) on

The Guardian reported that Burberry has removed this hoodie from its Autumn/Winter collection and all photographs featuring it.

The resemblance of suicide imagery in fashion items is not only insensitive when globally, according to the World Health Organisation, one person dies every 40 seconds due to suicide, but also very much affects the fashion industry as well.

READ MORE: "My social anxiety almost killed me"

Fashion has lost many of its industry leaders due to suicide. Just last year, the tragic death of fashion designer Kate Spade, the founder and former co-owner of her names sake brand, was announced. According to the Washington Post, medical examiners confirmed that Kate Spade’s cause of death was suicide by hanging.

READ MORE: "Losing all my hair taught me that my hair doesn’t define me"

In 2010, the death of British fashion designer and couturier Alexander McQueen was announced. CNN reported that the police confirmed that Alexander McQueen’s cause of death was due to asphyxia and hanging due to suicide.

Many models, like Liz, have also been affected by suicide and some have even been victims of mental health issues, leading them to suicide attempts. Victoria’s Secret model Bridget Malcolm and model Lara Kitchen are just some of the models who have opened up about being survivors. 

Fashion never exists in a vacuum and, in Liz Kennedy’s words, “suicide is not fashion”.

Speaking with BBC, the Burberry Group head said: “We will reflect on this, learn from it and put in place all necessary actions to ensure it does not happen again." 

For anyone struggling with mental illness you can contact The South African Depression and Anxiety Group 24 hour helpline: 0800 12 13 14

For a suicidal emergency contact The South African Depression and Anxiety Group on 0800 567 567

To contact a counsellor between 8am-8pm Monday to Sunday you can call: 011 234 4837 

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