Charleston-based designers behind Shan Shui Studio faced backlash after launching a very controversial collection called "Wear Their Names" made from shattered glass from protests with the intention to honor people who have died due to police brutality. Only, no one asked for that.
The collection consists of an array of necklaces, earrings, and rings made out of the glass with names such as 'The Tanisha, The Trayvon, The Elijah.'
There is a $240 necklace called "The Breonna" after Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police while asleep in her home. The police officers have still not been charged. There is a pair of $45 stud earrings name earrings called "The Tamir," after 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot by police on a playground for playing with a toy gun, and a $280 pendant necklace called "The Eric," after Eric Garner who died after being placed in a chokehold by police.
Black Twitter was outraged to learn about this kind of appropriation. While Black lives are being taken, a brand has the audacity to participate in this horrible act of performative protesting. Shan Shui says that all profits will go to an organization to fight against police brutality, but that's not enough.
The owners Paul Chelmis, and his girlfriend, Jing Wen have received death threats and since shut down their website and social media accounts. However, before then, they released a statement.
"So sorry to those we offended or harmed. While our intentions were pure, and we consulted with a wide variety of people before launching, it is clear that there are issues with the approach we took. Though we only wanted to honor the victim's names and retell their stories we see now that using those names was inappropriate and in poor taste. The two of us started this project from a place of creativity and in good faith, with a sense of duty to do our part and help the movement by bringing funds and awareness- and though today was very discouraging, we want to keep sight of that duty and move forward on the best path. We've shut down the entire site and project, halted our collaboration with the Gibbes, and are going to take a step back and a deep breath to figure out how to proceed. We removed our Instagram content because of some personal threats we started to receive, but we saved everyone's comments first so we can read through them all."
Shan Shui also mentions that they will be refunding unfulfilled orders and reassess which organizations the profits will go to for the already sold styles.
Let's hope that this is a lesson to all brands. You cannot profit off of someone else's pain even if it's for charity.
(Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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