Every year, Chanel comes out with a branded accessory no one knew they needed or wanted, but that none-the-less becomes the ridiculous purchase of the super wealthy. A few years ago it was the hoola hoop bag – a large, round and very expensive beach tote with handles so you could drape your wet towel out to dry on them. This year, it’s the Chanel boomerang, which at $2000 (£1.1K) a pop, has gone beyond mere ridicule to rattle a few cages.
Made from wood and resin, the item can currently be found lurking under the “other accessories” section in the brand’s SS17 pre-collection.
Make-up artist Jeffree Star was one of the first to bring said item to public attention when he tweeted (Instagrammed, Snap Chatted, Facebooked) about his own Chanel boomerang.
“Having so much fun with my new @Chanel boomerang,” he wrote.
A huge number of his followers – 86,000 to be precise – liked the photo.
— Jeffree Star (@JeffreeStar) May 15, 2017
However, the comment section just below the image dissolved into a heated debate over Chanel’s cultural appropriation of Aboriginal Australians, who are among the most disadvantaged citizens in the country.
The backlash spiralled out of control and in just three hours, 2300 comments had been posted, including by Aboriginal Australians who found the product offensive.
“I am from Australia and I am offended that a company would make a joke out of something that was used as a weapon for survival,” one follower wrote.
“It is no better than the fake inauthentic Aboriginal art from Thailand … except this is much pricier. At A$1,930, it costs nearly 10% of the average income of Indigenous Australians,” Nathan Sentence, an Indigenous project officer at the Australian Museum told the Guardian Australia.
That @CHANEL boomerang better be able to return even after knocking me a kangaroo and Chanel CEO for lunch. $2k? TG.
— The Kaylah Truth (@kaylahtruth) May 15, 2017
Writer and activist Nayuka Gorrie said that she found the idea of a luxury brand charging an absurd amount of money for a cultural item “ridiculous and hurtful”.
“If Chanel truly want to respect Aboriginal cultures, the first place they should start is discontinue this product and issue an apology.”
Chanel said in a statement that is was “extremely committed to respecting all cultures” and said that it regrets having caused any offence.
No word yet on whether they are considering withdrawing the item, or indeed whether that actually counts as an apology, but we’ll let you know when we do.