‘What were you thinking?’: Smith & Caughey’s selling ‘lynch mob’ coat – Stuff.co.nz


A customer is "appalled" at a lynch mob coat for sale at Smith & Caughey's in Auckland.

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A customer is “appalled” at a lynch mob coat for sale at Smith & Caughey’s in Auckland.

A “lynch mob” coat, modelled by a black woman, for sale in a top-range retail store has appalled a customer in Auckland.

The woman said she saw and admired the $750 coat in Smith & Caughey’s Queen Street store while shopping with a friend on Tuesday.

Later, she went online to find out more about the coat, and discovered it was named “lynch mob” and created by the designer Salasai.

Salasai designed the coat, describing it as a classic grandpa shaped coat for women, reminiscent of a bag lady whose jacket is slightly to big for her.

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Salasai designed the coat, describing it as a classic grandpa shaped coat for women, reminiscent of a bag lady whose jacket is slightly to big for her.

“I was appalled. Both at Salasai and Smith & Caughey’s for the name and to then use an African model,” she said.

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“But also I was also upset for the model, who would have had no idea that her image was to be associated with such an offensive name.”

A lynch mob refers to a band of people intent on lynching someone.

Historically, lynchings of African Americans in the US were a way to promote white supremacy and the acts were often photographed and published in communities.

Salasai company director and designer Kirsha Whitcher said the collection, the coat was a part of, was inspired by the artist, poet, musician, and film director David Lynch.

“The name of the lynch coat, formerly lynch mob coat, was created due to David Lynch’s cult-like mob following at the height of his popularity,” she said.

“These followers were often referred to as ‘The Lynch Mob’.” 

Whitcher said a small number of customers bought up the sensitivity around the coat’s name several weeks ago, and the company immediately moved to change the name. 

“We changed the name of the coat on our online store to better reflect the intention behind its naming. We apologise for this oversight,” she said.

“As a brand we have always championed diversity and will continue to do so. All stockists have been advised and will continue to be advised of the name change.”

A spokesperson from Smith & Caughey’s said items on the website were named by the designer but since complaints were made the website has changed the name to “check wool coat”.

Someone from Smith & Caughey’s will have made the change to the website, the spokesperson said.

Salasai is based in Perth and has been contacted for comment.



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