The designer brand issued the apology after many critiqued the company for making light of suicide on the runway

By Joelle Goldstein
February 19, 2019 10:31 PM
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Burberry has issued an apology after one of their models walked the runway wearing a sweatshirt with strings tied in the shape of a noose around the neck.

The designer brand received a lot of backlash following their decision to showcase the controversial design during their Autumn/Winter 2019 fashion week show in London earlier this week.

In the apology issued to CNN, Burberry’s Chief Executive Officer Marco Gobbetti said the company regretted the design and would be removing the item from their collection.

“We are deeply sorry for the distress caused by one of the products that featured in our A/W 2019 runway collection,” Gobbetti said. “Though the design was inspired by the marine theme that ran throughout the collection, it was insensitive and we made a mistake.”

Burberry did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

In addition, Burberry’s Chief Creative Officer Riccardo Tisci, who also served as the designer of the show, issued an apology on behalf of the fashion brand.

Burberry model wearing the hoodie with a noose

“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,” he said, according to CNN.

“It was never my intention to upset anyone,” Tisci continued. “It does not reflect my values nor Burberry’s and we have removed it from the collection. I will make sure that this does not happen again.”

Critique of the controversial design happened days after the model strutted down the runway in the brown sweatshirt.

Model Liz Kennedy, who walked in the fashion show but did not wear the design, expressed her disgust and disapproval for the noose prior to Sunday’s show, but said she was dismissed because “it’s fashion.”

“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,” she began the heated Instagram post, which was shared on Sunday.

Along with two photos of design, Kennedy also posted a screenshot of an Instagram post from Tisci, where the CCO captioned a photo of the sweatshirt by saying he was “dedicating this show to the youth of today.” The post has since been deleted.

“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,” she said. “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.”

Kennedy went on to mention the “rising suicide rates worldwide” and the “horrifying history of lynching,” adding that of all the ways to tie a rope, the designers specifically chose a noose while “completely ignoring the fact that it was hanging around a neck.”

Kennedy argued that a well-known brand like Burberry, who she said prides itself on being classy, “should not have overlooked such an obvious resemblance” and explained that she was personally impacted by suicide, which made this even more difficult to grasp.

The model also added that the company would make light of suicide in the dressing room — “they briefly hung [a noose] from the ceiling and were laughing about it in the dressing room,” she claimed — and said they dismissed her concerns when she brought it to their attention.

“I left my fitting extremely triggered after seeing this look (even though I did not wear it myself),” she said. “Feeling as though I was right back where I was when I was going through an experience with suicide in my family.”

“I had asked to speak to someone about it but the only thing I was told to do was to write a letter,” Kennedy continued. “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.'”

Kennedy, however, refused to stay silent on the matter, which she felt “very passionate” about.

“…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,” she finished. “A look so ignorantly put together and a situation so poorly handled. I am ashamed to have been apart of the show.”

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Gobbetti told CNN that he eventually called Kennedy after becoming aware of the product and her post to apologize.

Meanwhile, other companies, including the UK’s Mental Health Foundation also spoke out on the matter and said Burberry has a responsibility to “be better” moving forward.

“It is disappointing to see this representation in our day and age considering how much ground we have covered in mental health in recent years,” Antonis Kousoulis, the charity’s associate director of research, told CNN.

“Highly influential global brands like Burberry certainly have a role to play in giving a voice to diverse views, respecting people with lived experience, and being role models,” he added.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.