LONDON — Burberry has unreservedly apologized for sending a sweater onto its fall 2019 runway that appears to have a noose around the neck. Both Marco Gobbetti, the brand’s chief executive officer, and Riccardo Tisci, the brand’s chief creative officer, expressed regret at what they referred to as a genuine mistake.
On Sunday night, following the Burberry show, model Liz Kennedy criticized the brand on Instagram for sending out a brown hoodie that appeared to feature a noose. The item, which had the image of a sailor’s rope, in tune with the “Tempest” theme of the show, has since been removed from the collection.
“Suicide is not fashion,” the model wrote in the caption. “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 OK to do this, especially in a line dedicated to young girls and youth.”
Tisci said in a statement: “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.” He added that it does not reflect his, or the brand’s, values. “I will make sure this does not happen again.”
On Friday, he elaborated in a post on his Instagram account: “First of all, I‘m deeply sorry to anyone whose feelings I unintentionally have hurt. I am a man of my principles and I take my responsibilities seriously. I am committed to learn from this so that this never happens again,” he wrote. “Those who know me well or who know my work will understand that any references I have used in my collections have never been driven by negativity. This is not at my core. I take inspirations from life as I love it, in all of its beautiful forms. This collection was born from a very positive place. Throughout my life I have always fought for diversity, for sexuality, for people of colour, for women’s rights, for all genders, and for inclusivity. And I consider myself a world citizen and I’ve been raised in a loving family who taught me how to love and respect everyone around me. I listen, I learn, I improve and I believe in the power of love.”
Gobbetti also said the company is “deeply sorry for the distress caused by one of the products that featured in our fall 2019 collection, ‘Tempest.’ I called Ms. Kennedy to apologize as soon as I became aware of this on Monday and we immediately removed the product and all images that featured it.”
“It was insensitive and we made a mistake. The experience Ms. Kennedy describes does not reflect who we are and our values. We will reflect on this, learn from it and put in place all necessary actions to ensure it does not happen again,” Gobbetti added.
Burberry is the latest among its luxury peers to come under fire for putting on the runway products that some perceive to be offensive. Earlier this month, Gucci issued a public apology after the brand had posted a balaclava-style sweater that evoked blackface. The black knit top had a turtleneck that covered the bottom half of the face with a cutout around the mouth with red trim around it. The brand has since pulled the sweater from physical and online stores. In December, Prada was forced to apologize for selling animal-like figurines and charms that people complained evoked blackface. The group issued a statement saying it “abhors racist imagery” and vowed to withdraw the charms from “display and circulation.”