Designer Suicide

Dramatic title, I know. But for a subject of equal weight, it deserves some heaviness. Any avid fashion follower that regularly keeps up with runway shows is probably already aware of Burberry’s A/W 2019 show, and the most infamous piece of the collection: The Burberry Noose Hoodie. They didn’t name it that, I did. For those of you that don’t have an addiction to the Vogue Runway app, here’s what the hoodie looks like:

Yikes. This runway look received instant backlash, which led to both Burberry’s creative director Riccardo Tisci and the brand itself issuing apology statements within the following 48 hours and retracted the piece from their collection. Cool, I guess. What’s totally not cool (not even a little bit) is how this sends several different and equally shitty messages.

Let’s talk about the overtly obvious offensive part of this piece: it glamorizes suicide. Not only does it glorify it, but it puts suicide up as a topic that art can stem from. Which, yes, I will concede that trauma and sadness breeds some of the greatest art. But just putting a noose outright onto a hoodie? That’s not art, that’s not fashion, and that’s not even cute. Self-harm and depression are not actions or feelings that should be romanticized. Ever. For the people who actually suffer from these afflictions, romanticizing their daily battles only makes it harder for them to feel validated in their feelings. So, maybe, just maybe, we cut that from the narrative already.

A model who walked in the show, Liz Kennedy, called out Tisci on social media for creating such an insensitive piece of work, claiming that it’s “not glamorous or edgy.” What’s especially concerning is that fact that Tisci’s entire collection was based upon the concept of youth expressing their voice. Everyone should say “Thank you, Liz,” because I have no doubt that if she didn’t call this out, it would’ve been another fashion snafu that got swept under the rug.

I’d like to point out an underlying offense that is equally disturbing, and has become even more of a concern in fashion through the duration of 2018 and into 2019. This is an attack on the Black community as a whole. Lest we forget how slave-owners would put on shows of lynchings, I am here to remind you that was not too long ago. I’d like to know, along with many other people, how many rounds of production this hoodie went through? How many people looked at this hoodie and said, “yeah that’ll totally sell”? How much longer will we keep letting major fashion houses monetize bigoted, racist and oppressive symbols and profit off of it?

Gucci’s done it, Prada’s done it, Moncler’s done it. It’s been done. Nobody liked it then, nobody likes it now. Literally just hire a better marketing team if you want more attention. Or spam text your customers like an annoying ex-boyfriend. On behalf of those of us who liked your clothes before this, please stop being problematic. Desperation isn’t a good look for anyone. Even if the controversy leads to a surge in publicity.

Riccardo Tisci claims that this piece doesn’t reflect his or Burberry’s values, and swears that it won’t happen again. That’s a nice claim, and I appreciate his attempt to rectify this. However, someone should contact his people to let him know that him and Burberry just got added to the Problematic Fashion House Watchlist, right up there with Gucci and Prada. Try to keep it clean next time, Ricky.