CULTURE CLASH: Maison Kitsuné has courted controversy with visuals for its fall 2016 men’s collection featuring imagery considered by some to be a symbol of Japanese imperialism and aggression.

The brand, designed by Gildas Loaëc and Masaya Kuroki, removed three images featuring references to the Japanese military flag from its lookbook, released on Friday, after receiving negative backlash on social media.

“Maison Kitsuné is thankful to those who brought the issue on our look book to our attention,” the brand stated. “We are deeply sorry for people who are offended. These pictures have been cleared from our communication tools. Due to cultural difference, our French team wasn’t aware of the significance of this symbol.”

The Japanese military flag, which features red rays emanating from the rising sun, is seen by many as a sign of aggression and imperialism, especially in places like Korea that were previously occupied by Japan.

While the brand said the issue related to the images in the lookbook, rather than the clothes themselves, which feature images of a rising sun and WWII military aircraft in reference to Hayao Miyazaki’s animated movie “The Wind Rises,” criticism online refers to both the photos and the clothes.

At the label’s presentation in Paris on Friday, Loaëc explained that the label’s decision to integrate Japanese references, as well as being part of its roots, was driven by growing pride among young Japanese people toward their culture.

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