Ex-Burberry chief praises social media over ‘noose hoodie’ controversy

The former creative director and chief executive of Burberry has praised social media for its power to give people a voice after the “noose hoodie” scandal.

Christopher Bailey-Woods, 46, made the comments as he collected his CBE for services to the fashion industry from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.

Mr Bailey-Woods spent 17 years with Burberry, rescuing it from its reliance on its check accessories and turning it into a brand with revenues of more than £2.7 billion in 2018.

He left the company late last year and was succeeded by Riccardo Tisci in the role of creative director.

Mr Tisci’s collection in February sparked controversy when model Liz Kennedy used social media to express her disgust over a hoodie apparently featuring a noose at the neck.

In an Instagram post she wrote “Suicide is not fashion,” adding “It is not glamorous nor edgy” – prompting the brand to apologise and withdraw the item.

Mr Bailey-Woods told the Press Association he was “saddened” by the incident, but believes the fact Kennedy felt able to speak up was a positive sign for the industry.

He said: “I think it’s actually a really positive thing that people have their own opportunities to reflect their own views and I think social media is often cast in a very dark light, but I think really positive things come out of it as well.

“As much as I was saddened by that particular instance, I think the right outcome has happened.

“I think we’re seeing huge changes across all sectors and all industries – the world as changed so dramatically because of digital technology and social media, and that’s impacting the way everyone communicates, from politicians to retailers, to designers to creatives to all of us as individuals.

“It has without doubt changed the whole way that we communicate our ideas – I think it’s a very exciting time.”

But he added: “I think it’s (also) a very turbulent time, there’s a lot of uncertainty out there that makes people nervous.”

During his tenure at Burberry, Mr Bailey-Woods was a vocal supporter of LGBTQ rights and was the first openly gay chief executive of a FTSE 100 company.

A father of two young daughters, since stepping down he is now doing his best “not to work”.

“It’s a really lovely moment of reflection for me – I’m spending time with my family, I’m helping a couple of friends and I’m trying not to work,” he said.

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