Mental Health is Not Fashion

“MENTAL HEALTH IS NOT FASHION” read a model’s hands at a Gucci show during Milan Fashion Week in late September.  The model, Ayesha Tan-Jones, who is non-binary and goes by they/them pronouns, was inspired to peacefully protest the straitjacket styled jumpsuits the runway show featured because of their own experiences with mental illness. They explained their decision to protest after through Instagram posts: “As an artist and model who has experienced my own struggles with mental health...it is hurtful and insensitive for a major fashion house such as Gucci to use this imagery as a concept for a fleeting fashion moment.” Tan-Jones also encouraged her followers on Instagram to donate money to mental health organizations and gave advice on how to support those suffering with mental illness.  Gucci gave a statement to HuffPost UK and defended the straitjacket style of the jumpsuits. The spokesperson said the show was meant to display “how society today can have the ability to confine individuality and how Gucci can be the antidote. It was a journey from conformity to freedom and creativity.”  Tan-Jones’ protest is just one of many Gucci has faced recently. The brand was convinced to remove a sweater from shelves in early 2019 because of backlash saying it resembled imagery of blackface, according to NPR. They later apologized for the incident. In May 2019, Gucci started selling nearly $800 Sikh turbans at Nordstrom, according to NBC News, and faced criticism that the brand was profiting off of cultural appropriation.  Gucci’s controversial fashion decisions is sure to continue to stir up contentions in 2020.