NIKE was under fire last night after the American brand launched a £70 balaclava that was targeted at London’s criminal gang culture.
The Nike x MMW balaclava, which has now been removed from the company’s website claimed that it intended to keep wearers warm in cold weather conditions.
Twittersphere accussed the brand of “targeting the current gang culture for profit”.
White Yardie also condemned the clothing, saying Nike was “exploiting” young people involved in gang crime.
“Let’s be real the only people who will go and buy these are young people involved in gangs. Too much young people are dead and too much young people are doing the killings,” he said in a minute-long video.
Photographer Anthony Benjamin drew comparisons of the sale of the headgear with a promotion created by Puma earlier this year, where the rival sportswear brand threw a party – titled the House of Hustle – inspired by adolescent drug dealing.
Guests were sent Puma shoe boxes full of fake £50 notes, “drug dealer” phones and business cards that instructed invitees to “turn on the trap line”.
The balaclava was part of a clothing line made in collaboration with US fashion designer Matthew Williams, whose clothes have been worn by Kanye West, Travis Scott and Tom Sachs, among others.
However, CEO of the London-based community outreach project Soap Box, Paul McKenzie, said young people “adore these manufacturers” and questioned why the influential brand felt the need to sell this type of clothing.