Gucci Slammed for Using Straitjackets

Gucci has been a phenomenon since I was born. It sets the bar of fashion and trends and is so hip that it has now become a slang word. They have been nothing less than trailblazers, but that didn’t stop them from having their fair share of backlash. The fashion house had to take the “Blackface” jumper out of their collection because of racial discrimination and were slammed for using turbans as it was seen as cultural appropriation. One would think these accusations would make the company more sensitive about the clothes they put out and its implications. Unfortunately, they are being called insensitive once again.

Related: Gucci’s Blackface Boycott

At a recent Milan fashion show, Gucci had their models dressed in straitjackets and walk down a conveyor belt runway. Straitjackets are symbolic of a time when mental health was not recognized, and those that were deemed “crazy” had to go through horrific, unspeakable experiences. It’s reminiscent of the Victorian era when medicine used straitjackets for torturing mental health patients, as it was an instrument for restriction. In part, that is what had perpetuated the mental health stigma that is a prominent event today. Gucci capitalizing on this symbolism is not only distasteful, but irresponsible. They are a massive fashion house, and by not respecting and acknowledging mental health’s dark past shows that they don’t have much regard for the concept as a whole. Luckily, one of the models decided to call them out.

Ayesha Tan Jones, whose pronouns are them/they, was not appreciative of Gucci’s vision. They walked the show but had “ MENTAL HEALTH IS NOT FASHION” written on their palms. As they reached the runway, they held up their hands to draw attention to the words on their palms. 

 

Via Insider

They took to Instagram to state that, “It is in bad taste for Gucci to use the imagery of straight jackets and outfits alluding to mental patients while being rolled out on a conveyor belt as if a piece of factory meat. Presenting these struggles as props for selling clothes in today’s capitalist climate is vulgar, unimaginative and offensive to the millions of people around the world affected by these issues.” The stigma behind mental health has slightly lessened in the past few years and has instead transitioned to being a talking point. This show feels like a step back in the dialogue and reminded the audience of the regressive time period where straitjackets and all that came with it was acceptable. 

Related: Burberry Apologizes for Noose Sweatshirt

Gucci responded on Instagram by saying, “Uniforms, utilitarian clothes, normative dress, including straitjackets, were included in the #GucciSS20 fashion show as the most extreme version of a uniform dictated by society and those who control it. These clothes were a statement for the fashion show and will not be sold.” While the intention may have been to spark constructive dialogue, what they ended up doing is perpetuating mental health stigma. If the idea was to make a statement, the least they could have done is announced a trigger warning. These mistakes are not acceptable, especially in the era we are in now. Their wide range of influence also comes with high responsibility. Hopefully, these backlashes will help the company understand the implications their clothes have and be more sensitive to others’ sentiments next time.