South Korean Brand Uses Suicide To Sell Clothing

We may have to start actively updating our list of the most offensive fashion ads of all time, because this one officially takes the cake. A South Korean clothing label called Lewitt has just unveiled their Fall ad campaign — a video starring Chanel favorite Abbey Lee Kershaw and shot by photographer Ryan McGinley — which features a lost-looking Kershaw determinedly scaling a building and then jumping from its roof. Naturally, her outfit changes as she falls. By way of context, no less than nine, by our count, models have committed suicide in the last two years alone.

Frockwriter, who discovered the video and was lucky enough to snag some time with Kershaw backstage at a fashion show last week, asked the model what she thought about the video:

Frockwriter: I just wanted to ask about this Korean video you’ve done, Lewitt. What is it exactly?
Abbey Lee Kershaw: It’s an Asian label and it was based around the story of Alice in Wonderland.

FW: So what, she’s supposed to be falling down the rabbit hole?
ALK: Ah…I don’t…I mean…however you…we were shooting all day. There were different scenes all day. So his, ah, edit of it..I haven’t even seen it to be honest. I haven’t seen it yet. I think it just came out.

FW: Some might be concerned that it looks like you’re trying to jump off the building.
ALK: Yeah of course people are concerned about things like that. People are always going to perceive..

FW: South Korea has the highest female suicide rate in the world and there have also been a lot of model suicides, with many of them jumping. Do you not understand why it might concern people?
ALK: I understand. I haven’t seen the video.

FW: But wouldn’t you have had the right to see it before it was finished?
ALK: [Starts to move away] I’m done here. I’m done. Thank you.

Jezebel’s Jenna Sauers points out that this isn’t McGinley’s first foray into suicidal spreads. According to her research, the Fall 2008 issue of POP magazine “saw the publication of an 11-page spread of model Agyness Deyn falling from a Manhattan fire escape [shot by McGinley.]”

It’s also worth pointing out — as both Frockwriter and Jezebel did — that South Korea has the “highest suicide rate in the developed world,” which only serves to make the campaign more tone-deaf.

And as for the so-called Alice in Wonderland reference, we don’t know about McGinley, but all the versions we’ve ever read don’t end up with Alice dead.

While Lewitt and co. have removed the video from YouTube, it’s still up on their site — and Jezebel has also snagged a copy for posterity.


Abbey Lee Kershaw helps glamorize model suicides for a South Korean fashion brand [Frockwriter]
Ryan McGinley’s “suicide” video was inspired by Alice in Wonderland – Abbey Lee Kershaw [Frockwriter]
South Korean Fashion Brand Glamorizes Suicide [Jezebel]

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