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Vetements SS20Photography J’Dee Allin

Vetements’ new ‘don’t shoot’ t-shirt is causing controversy

The tee is a reworked version of the 1982 original, worn in Beirut during the war between Lebanon and Israel

Last week, Vetements presented its latest collection in the unlikely setting of McDonald’s (Paris’s largest location no less). The new SS20 collection was a comment on capitalism and featured reworked brand logos like Heineken, PlayStation, and Internet Explorer. 

Elsewhere, a tee that read ‘Don’t Shoot’ in English, French, and Arabic followed by Vetements also appeared; the tee was originally worn by journalists during the 1982 Lebanon War. The t-shirt has been previously recreated by London-based Emirati designer Khalid Qasimi for his AW17 collection – something he said at the time was “very personal” and a comment on current issues in the Middle East. 

Following the show, there were some – including Vogue Arabia and political journalist turned influencer Samar Seraqui de Buttafoco – who criticised the tee of appropriating the conflict, particularly as designer Demna Gvasalia is of Georgian descent. “This is more serious than #culturalappropriation, this is business activism for DUMMIES,” said Seraqui de Buttafoco on Instagram

While Gvasalia is the figurehead of the brand, Vetements has always been a collaborative effort, bringing together a number of designers from all over the world. Of course, this isn’t the first time Vetements has used its collection to push a political message. For the deeply personal SS19 collection, that paid homage to Gvasalia’s birthplace, the label created an app to teach you all about Georgian history and the political unrest there. 

Despite the controversy, Seraqui de Buttafoco hopes the conversation around the t-shirt will help raise awareness around important issues. “Perhaps it will give them the idea to go and buy books and understand... the story of what happened in Beirut,” she says