Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
French brand Le Léon has pulled from production a cashmere sweater emblazoned with the word "Chômeur," which is French for "unemployed." The sweaters were supposed to be ironic, see — but with the French unemployment rate at a record high of 10.4%, the €285 ($377) sweatshirts drew widespread scorn on Twitter and in the press.
Company founder Léon Taieb says the sweaters were intended to "denounce unemployment and the gloomy situation in France in general." It definitely didn't help the controversy that the pricey sweaters weren't even made in France. "We were looking for a factory in France, but it would have brought up the retail price to €1,000," offered Taieb.
Taieb has pulled the sweaters from sale. Meanwhile, Colette picked up two others in the collection, bearing the slogans "Le Cassou Laid" (a pun on "cassoulet," the southwestern French dish) and "Rockfort" ("roquefort," get it?).
Many French commentators were upset not only by the $400 "Unemployed" sweatshirts, which they saw as in bad taste, but also by the Le Léon lookbook, which featured models posing next to working-class people, like street cleaners. How quaint! Actual poor people make luxury men's wear look really real. Taieb has apologized for the shirts.
— Jenna Sauers