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Vetements brand under fire for showcasing a t-shirt referring to the war in Lebanon

Written by FDM

Streetwear brand, Vetements, is facing backlash from fashion professionals from the Middle East for a displaying a “Do not shoot” t-shirt reminiscent of Lebanon’s war in the 80s.

A few days ago the streetwear brand, Vetements, presented its spring-summer 2020 collection at Paris Fashion Week. The brand, accustomed to controversy, this year again attracted criticism for featuring a white t-shirt on which the words “Do not shoot” are written in French, English, and Arabic.

The t-shirt is a reproduction of those worn by journalists during the war in Lebanon in the 80s. Clothing designed to prevent them from being targeted by gunfire during this deadly conflict, The Guardian reports.

Influential, fashion professionals from the Middle East expressed angry reactions like Lebanese influencer Samar Seraqui of Buttafoco, better known as a Lebanese woman in Paris, accused the brand of “fake activism, to SELL MORE”, and “business activism for DUMMIES”. She’s hoping for ‘ more respectability in the fashion industry.’

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@qasimi_official does it before @vetements_official the “DON’T SHOOT” tee shirt FW17 / SS20. “This T-shirt was something very personal to me,” Khalid says. “It was a T-shirt reworked from the original Beirut 1982, during the war between Lebanon and Israel. It was a T-shirt that was given to the press. We’ve reworked it to highlight issues of the Middle East and what’s happening in the Middle East at the moment.” #DemnaGvasalia fake activism, to SELL MORE. Dear habibis, #BuyArabDesigners This is more serious than #culturalappropriation , this is business activism for DUMMIES. Hope You will act like a responsible consumers Hope some fashion editors will dedicate time to think and report. Hope to more respectability in the fashion industry. #urbannomad #parisfashionweek #mensfashionweek #vetementsofficial #UlapSupportArabDesignersSince10yearsAndAllCreativesPeopleAroundTheWorld

A post shared by Samar Seraqui de Buttafoco (@ulap) on

On the other hand, the brand’s also facing plagiarism accusation by the Emirati designer, Khalid Al-Qasimi, who has already presented the same t-shirt, in 2017, explains Vogue Arabia.

If the young designer, based in Dubai, admits to not owning the “Don’t Shoot” copyright, he considers, however, the approach of Vetements insensitive.

“It’s about consumerism. But it’s a complete F-U to the region as well. I used that print to highlight the plight of something going on in the Middle East. For Vetements to use it in such a flippant and provocative manner; I don’t think they realize what these words mean to us Arabs.” He told Vogue Arabia.

The magazine hopes this controversy will raise awareness among consumers in the region, pushing them to support “Arab designers with a message and a purpose”.