The fashion industry is abuzz as brands make controversial statements, with Burberry showcasing a hoodie with a noose on it while Zara uses a freckled Chinese model in their latest campaign.
The former incident occurred during its Fall 2019 runway at London Fashion Week, as a model wore what is being described as a ‘noose hoodie’, prompting widespread anger for its insensitivity towards both suicide and racial genocide.
Model Liz Kennedy took to Instagram to voice her disapproval, saying in an extensive post: “Suicide is not fashion. It is not glamorous nor edgy.
“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 (sic) of the show”.
As word spread and the backlash came quickly, Burberry went on the defensive, with CEO Marco Gobbetti saying in a statement released to CNN: “We are deeply sorry for the distress caused by one of the products that featured in our A/W 2019 runway collection.
“Though the design was inspired by the marine theme that ran through the collection, it was insensitive and we made a mistake”.
Burberry creative director 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”.
However, this was not even the strangest cause for controversy in the industry, as Spanish fashion label Zara has come under fire for a lipstick ad on its Weibo account that, according to some, ‘uglifies China’.
The ad sparked controversy for its use of model Li Jingwen (professionally known as Jing Wen), as her freckled appearance was evidently cause for concern, with the preference being clear-skinned faces.
One commenter said: “Such pictures featuring an Asian model with freckles and an expressionless pie-shaped face mislead (sic) Westerners’ impressions about Asian women and can lead to racism against Asian women”.
The campaign has even drawn comparisons to Dolce & Gabanna’s ill-fated campaign in which a Chinese woman was displayed eating Italian food with chopsticks.
Jing, a leading model from China, has previously modelled for Prada, and appeared on the cover of Vogue Italia and Vogue China, causing many to be bewildered by the negative response.
Art blogger and Sina Weibo user “Airan” told the Global Times: “Beauty or ugliness is not the only standard for models.
Instead, faces that can leave audiences with a visual shock are welcomed in the modelling industry”.
Jing has not yet commented, though her appearance had previously been addressed as an issue for her growing up, saying in a 2016 piece for Vogue: “When I was little, I really hated them because normally Asians don’t have them.
“In high school, I always tried to cover them, but now it’s okay.
“I like them, and that’s enough”.