Gucci treats mental health as a fleeting fashion trend

Gucci models make waves at Milan’s Fashion Week as they strut down the runway in starightjackets.
Gucci models make waves at Milan’s Fashion Week as they strut down the runway in starightjackets.

Nicoletta Veneziano | Staff Columnist

The iconic and familiar name Gucci never goes unrecognized. The name carries an inevitable amount of clout, especially within the last few years. Whether you’re sporting some Gucci slides or the classic Gucci belt, the red and green stripes never go unnoticed.

What hasn’t been so evident in the media in reference to Gucci’s “timeless” fame is that they ever-so-effortlessly continue to promote offensive, ignorant and racist products.

In February of this year, Gucci was harshly criticized for the creation of a balaclava knit face mask that resembled blackface. They apologized for their ignorant mistake and continued making millions off their clothes.

In May of this year, Gucci was criticized again for cultural appropriation following the creation of a blue turban, which was being sold for $800.

The brand’s most recent scandal occurred during Gucci’s fashion show in Milan, when it had their models sporting straitjackets, indicating that this had to be a fashion statement the third time around.

Ayesha Tan-Jones, a 26-year-old nonbinary model, took a stand to this so-called “fashion statement,” holding up their hands on the runway to display a message reading “Mental health is not fashion.” To no surprise, this act of bravery and defense caused an uproar not only in the fashion industry, but also in the environment of mental illness as well.

Putting models in straitjackets and sending them down a runway automatically shows Gucci’s lack of empathy and awareness towards mental illness. What was their motive you may ask? Designer Alessandro Michele’s excuse for creating the ignorant clothing was that it represented “the most extreme version of a uniform dictated by society and those who control it.”

Yes, what you’re thinking is probably correct. That makes absolutely no sense. He probably thought about how inconsiderate he sounded when he furthered his excuse after the show, stating that he wanted to portray “how society today can have the ability to confine individuality and that Gucci can be the antidote.”

The lack of respect, as well as common sense that the designers and promoters of Gucci had during the creation of this “fashion statement” boggles me completely. The use of straitjackets in the mental health environment is a gruesome symbol of the mistreatment of mentally ill patients, representing an era of our time when mental health institutions tortured, abused and belittled their patients. Putting one on a runway is a confirmation to belittling and insulting those who experience, or know of someone who experiences mental illness on a day to day basis.

Gucci’s main purpose of this show was to express and celebrate individuality. They may have succeeded in that area with some of the clothing being vivid, bright and unique. However, putting a model in a straitjacket and trying to refer to it as an ‘expression of individuality’ is disrespectful and absentminded.

By the looks of past and present, it seems that Gucci may never comprehend that making an outrageous and offensive piece of clothing and calling it “fashion” is not gaining any positive publicity. They will continue to use ignorance to gain fame and profit.

Ayesha Tan-Jones took a stand against the absentminded brand and even vowed to donate 100% of their modelling payment for the show to mental health charities.

Stop buying Gucci for the clout and start boycotting their overpriced, overrated and hateful products. Be more like Tan-Jones.