Though luxury brands are growing increasingly adventurous when it comes to experimenting with lifestyle products, Chanel’s new $1,325 boomerang may have taken it a step too far.
Chanel found itself in hot water for what many social media users are decrying as a disrespectful appropriation of indigenous Australians, a community that has traditionally used the boomerang as a weapon for hunting for hundreds of years. The Chanel boomerang is part of collection of branded game sets, which includes $475 tennis balls, a $1,550 tennis racket, $3,350 beach rackets and an unpriced shuffleboard set.
The initial outcry was sparked by makeup artist Jeffree Star, who shared a photo of the Chanel boomerang yesterday with the caption “Having so much fun with my new #Chanel boomerang.” It immediately prompted a flurry of comments from followers, including “Boomerangs are not toys” and “All I can say is I hope Chanel is donating profits to struggling Aboriginal communities.”
Another user, who goes by the handle @gabriellajunae, wrote: “[It’s] cultural appropriation man… as an Australian I knew about this before this post, and I don’t care about the money aspect, just a huge brand who has so much influence using their publicity to sell a sacred item with their logo on it is so wrong.”
In addition to the influx of Twitter and Instagram comments alleging the product as tone deaf, Nathan Sentance, Indigenous project officer at the Australian Museum, told The Guardian the Chanel boomerang costs nearly 10 percent of the average income of the Aborginal community.
@JeffreeStar, rather than paying $2000AUD for a Chanel Boomerang you should look into investing in one one made by an Aboriginal Australian.
— LSP (@zzoeeseymour) May 15, 2017
I really shouldn’t have bought that avocado toast after I splurged on my new Chanel boomerang.
— J. Rhodes (@rhodesjayg) May 16, 2017
In other news good to see some aboriginal perspective being given airtime with this Chanel boomerang controversy pic.twitter.com/rsv40vHKUP
— tony website (@LeonardSkinhead) May 16, 2017
Could Chanel’s $2,000 boomerang continue to be the most bizarre #brand extension ever?
— Jeetendr Sehdev (@JeetendrSehdev) May 16, 2017
Others sided with Jeffree and Chanel, claiming the dissent was unfounded. Instagram commenters weighed in with comments that included “Surely there are bigger issues in the world people can get angry about” and “Seriously people from Australia, he’s not trying to offend anyone.”
the internet is exploding bc @JeffreeStar is enjoying a Chanel boomerang smh I’d be playing with it too
— nick. (@WhosKara) May 16, 2017
Chanel has since issued a statement in response, but has not removed the boomerang from its website. “Chanel is extremely committed to respecting all cultures, and deeply regrets that some may have felt offended.”