Harrods, a department store in London, has discontinued selling a luxury handbag after its design caused social media outrage. The leather clutch — priced at £6,340 (approximately ₹6,54,977) — was designed after Hindu god Ganesha, which many perceived as an attack on their religious sentiments.
The embellished clutch bag is from New York label Judith Leiber, a brand often seen sported by celebrities like Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez.
A report in The Guardian quotes Nandini Singh, head of social media at Reach (Race, Ethnicity and Culture Heritage), as saying, “Our gods are not accessory fashion items, and it is highly disrespectful for them to be represented as such,” adding that the bag “was mocking and demeaning our faith”.
“It raises a serious question, why doesn’t a world-renowned brand do proper research on religion and faith to find out what [its products] mean to the people who are following that faith. It’s cultural and religious appropriation,” Rajnish Kashyap, the director of the Hindu Council UK (HCUK), was quoted as saying in the report.
“What will be good is if they and other such sellers have checks and measures in place to ensure that such blunders do not happen again.”
In response to the protests on social media Harrods later tweeted an apology. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, we have removed this from sale from our site.”
“We are deeply sorry to hear that our bag has caused offence to the Hindu community,” said company president Lela Katsune, “(our) goals has always been to create unique pieces that respectfully celebrate art, individuals, and cultures. However, now that we are aware that the leather lining in the bag contradicts the Hindu belief system, effective immediately we will be ceasing production on this style with leather lining. Going forward, this style will be produced with a synthetic lining. Customers who have purchased a bag will have the option of replacing the leather lining with a synthetic interior free of cost,” the company told The Guardian.