Australian designer faces backlash after releasing ‘mercenary’ #MeToo collection

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Australian designer faces backlash after releasing ‘mercenary’ #MeToo collection

(Picture: Kholo &

Some critics are even using the hashtag #BoycottKholo.

Karishma Kasabia, designer for the luxe Aussie brand Kholo, has launched the #Metoo collection, featuring high end pieces named after famous women including Oprah and Serena Williams.

However, after criticism online the designer has decided today to rename it the ‘Magnificent Woman’ collection.

#MeToo of course refers to the massive movement sparked by the allegations about film producer Harvey Weinstein finally coming to light, after 80 women were brave enough to break their silence and accuse him of harassment and rape. Women all over the world opened up about their experiences of abuse, triggering a global conversation about the widespread nature of sexual assault.

Kholo’s clothing collection includes the ‘Armed Sweater’ with epaulettes on the shoulders, a studded mini skirt and a metallic #MeToo badge, but people are asking whether or not it’s ever acceptable to profit from a movement shining a light on the prevalence of sexual abuse.

Sophie Kalagas, editor of Frankie magazine, tweeted simply ‘oh no’.

The #MeToo collection’s copy reads: ‘So this is for the warriors. For all the wounds. Mental, physical and the worst; emotional. For the healing.’

Using the title of a movement where people share their experiences of traumatic rapes to sell pricey garments is not going down well on Twitter.

Users have been quick to point out that a clothing collection for well-off Australian women might not be the best way to help ‘warriors’ who have experienced rape and sexual assault.

Others described the collection as ‘mercenary’ and questioned why a range named after a movement against sexual abuse would feature a dress called ‘Sex on Legs’ or a sweater called ‘Bounce with Me’.

Australian designer faces backlash after releasing ‘mercenary’ #MeToo collection
The Serena Blouse in plum (Picture: Kholo)

On the Kholo website, Kasabia states that when ‘the whole #MeToo thing broke out’ she was ‘so surprised’.

She wasn’t aware that women had been ‘protecting themselves for generations’, suggesting that she had little knowledge of the widespread nature of sexual harassment and abuse, and how it is a painful part of life for millions of women.

Of the inspiration behind the collection, Karishma Kasabia told ‘I’ve got a friend who’s a mentor and she’s been incredibly successful in her career and her family. She came out and said that when she was working at a magazine, she was told by her boss to sit on his lap so she could get her paycheck.

‘I just remember thinking, I had no idea that this had happened to you. I’d known her for years and this had never come up in conversation.’

Australian designer faces backlash after releasing ‘mercenary’ #MeToo collection
The Maya Angelou Coat (Picture: Kholo)
Addressing the controversy, Kasabia says: ‘It’s fair enough for people to feel disappointed if it’s called the #MeToo collection but for me its talking about the strength in women, how we support each other and how we raise each other up – the positive things we do that have got us to this point.

‘I think everyone’s going to have their own things to say and that fine, but if it was me, I’d want to ask where it was coming from – is it coming from a genuine place? That’s what I care about.’

Australian designer faces backlash after releasing ‘mercenary’ #MeToo collection
The Oprah scarf (Picture: Kholo)

It is unclear from Khola’s website as to whether any proceeds from the collection will go to women’s charities or supporting victims of sexual abuse.

On contacting Karishma Kasabia, we learned that the designer will donate from the profits to the White Ribbon Campaign, but a percentage or figure is not yet known.

You can see the full collection here.