For the spring/summer 2020 show, the Paris-based brand featured models walking the runway holding IV bags similar to those found in hospitals and wearing bandages on their arms.
In photos from the show, one model can be seen wearing a shirt that read “Sick” as she walked the runway holding the IV.
On Instagram, where the designer shared videos from the show, as well as an up-close picture of the Kimhēkim-branded IV bags, people have criticised the “tasteless” decision to use medical accessories and illness as a fashion statement.
In addition to accusations of ableism, some said that brand was acting insensitively towards people who suffer from illnesses or disabilities.
“What is this?? Being sick isn’t a fashion accessory,” one person commented.
Another said: “This is NOT fashion. Being sick isn’t ‘trendy’ or ‘cool’”.
“This is a reprehensible concept and deeply insensitive to all those who struggle with illness,” someone else commented.
Others shared their own medical experiences in an effort to convey the issue with the brand glamorising illness.
“As a person with multiple chronic illnesses, I am absolutely appalled that you would do this,” one person wrote. “You’re absolutely missing the mark. I hope no one supports this behaviour.”
Although the brand has not commented publicly in response to the backlash, it has responded to individual Instagram comments with black hearts.
The criticism comes after Gucci found itself involved in a similar controversy during its runway show at Milan Fashion Week for featuring a collection of straitjackets.
While debuting its spring/summer 2020 collection, which featured models wearing the garments formerly used in psychiatric hospitals, non-binary model Ayesha Tan Jones staged a protest by holding up their hands, where they’d written the words: “mental health is not fashion”.
In an Instagram post uploaded after the show, Jones explained they found Gucci’s design “hurtful and insensitive” as someone who had previously suffered with mental health.
The model also accused the luxury brand of using mental health issues as “props for selling clothes in today’s capitalist climate” before describing the clothes as “vulgar, unimaginative and offensive”.
The Independent has contacted Kimhēkim for comment.
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