Louis Vuitton Pulls Michael Jackson Apparel Items as Documentary Fallout Mounts
He might have been “The King of Pop” when he topped the charts, but the posthumous press that Michael Jackson has received over the contents of the “Leaving Neverland” documentary is proving a royal pain to his legacy. While the public is pondering the lasting impressions it will associate with the singer based on the accusations of sexual misconduct against him, Louis Vuitton has already made a definitive move, determining that Michael Jackson apparel items will not appear in its fall men's wear collection.
June 25 will mark the 10-year anniversary of Jackson's passing, so 2019 would have likely brought on tons of examinations of the creative output and controversies from his career anyway. The HBO-distributed film, however, has augmented the attention that his already-highly scrutinized life will garner by offering accounts from two men who claim that Jackson violated them in their youth, with the fashion house and luxury retail company stating, via men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh, that it condemns “any form of child abuse, violence or infringement against any human rights.”
Now, Jackson has long been in the limelight, both when alive and posthumously, over allegations of wrongdoing with minors, so one could question the reasoning behind crafting garments or goods that laud him. But Louis Vuitton had gone through, regardless, with praising him through the collection. Abloh, according to Elle, dubbed him “the most important person in innovating men’s wear ever.”
The collection that includes Jackson-inspired shirts subsequently escaped any backlash when it debuted in January, shortly before “Leaving Neverland” hit the masses, but mounting investigation of the claims stated within the documentary made apparent to Louis Vuitton that it could not let the 65-item collection become associated solely with the performer’s alleged missteps.
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At a time when matters involving supposed sexual indiscretion receive intense consideration, the fashion powerhouse really had no choice but to tell the nods to Jackson to beat it, no matter how successful, inspirational, and legendary his songs are. Though Abloh had hoped to commend “the Michael that I thought was universally accepted, the good side, his humanitarian self,” no brand could likely withstand the massive backlash that affiliation—especially since the union would result in sales campaigns—with a suspected sexual criminal would engender. Though the fallen entertainer’s estate is countering the content captured within “Leaving Neverland,” pondering Jackson’s innocence means far less to Louis Vuitton than protecting its name does.
The company, however, will not be scrapping its entire fall men's wear collection. Items that bear no ties to Jackson will still find their way into stores, making us wonder if some end-users, despite the removal of certain goods, will chastise the remaining product options based on principle alone. Louis Vuitton claims that it had no knowledge of the impending release of “Leaving Neverland” when issuing its now-headlines-catching collection, and while that should stand as believable, the always-in-style public cry to address the suspicions against Jackson should have stood as motivation not to come up with any goods that pay him homage. This is a free country, of course, so Louis Vuitton was creatively justified in devising Jackson-centric products. It must now deal with the moral elements of its decision-making process, too.