Some fashion trends are like boomerangs: They disappear for a while, but they always come back. That said, Chanel’s high-end—and controversial—take on the traditional Aboriginal tool probably won’t be one of them.
As Mashable reports, the French fashion house has drawn criticism for creating a wood-and-resin boomerang, emblazoned with the brand's logo, that costs $1325. It’s part of their Spring-Summer 2017 Pre-Collection, which also includes sporting accessories like a $475 set of branded tennis balls and a $3350 ping pong paddle set.
Fashion design isn’t always the most practical art form, but in recent months, a handful of designers and retailers have raised eyebrows—and set off social media firestorms—after releasing products like a $425 pair of dirt-encrusted jeans, or a $2145 version of IKEA’s classic $1 tote bag. Chanel’s boomerang is the latest overpriced fashion statement to raise ridicule—but unlike those other two items, it’s also drawing accusations of cultural appropriation, since boomerangs are an intrinsic part of Australia’s Aboriginal culture.
Adding insult to injury, Chanel’s version of a boomerang “costs nearly 10 percent of the average income of Indigenous Australians,” Nathan Sentance, an Indigenous project officer at the Australian Museum, told The Guardian.
This isn’t the first time that Chanel has sold a branded boomerang. (Although this appears to be first time they’ve received heat for it.) The brand hasn’t pulled the product from their website, but they did release an apologetic statement, according to The New York Times:
“Chanel is extremely committed to respecting all cultures and deeply regrets that some may have felt offended," the statement read. "The inspiration was taken from leisure activities from other parts of the world, and it was not our intention to disrespect the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and the significance of the boomerang as a cultural object.”