SYDNEY - French fashion house Chanel has triggered an uproar by selling a luxury monogrammed boomerang with a price tag of nearly US$1,500, with critics saying the accessory is an insult to Australian Aborigines.
Chanel is accused of turning the hunting weapon, an important part of Aboriginal heritage, into a status symbol by offering a black wood and resin boomerang for sale in its spring-summer collection.
"When I think about Aboriginal culture, I think @chanel," Aboriginal activist Nayuka Gorrie tweeted sarcastically.
"Have decided to save for the next three years so I can connect with my culture via @CHANEL."
He told the Guardian Australia that the item was "so wrong it is almost absurd".
"Having a luxury brand swoop in, appropriate, sell our technologies and profit from our cultures for an absurd amount of money is ridiculous and hurtful," he said, pointing out that indigenous people were the most disadvantaged in Australia and had to fight to preserve their traditions.
The furore kicked off when American make-up artist Jeffree Star posted photos online of the boomerang on Tuesday, sparking ridicule.
"@JeffreeStar, rather than paying $2000AUD for a Chanel Boomerang you should look into investing in one made by an Aboriginal Australian," tweeted user LSP.
Another said on Twitter: "@CHANEL your 'boomerang' is tacky and a gross appropriation of indigenous culture for your own profit."
Chanel released a statement saying it was "extremely committed to respecting all cultures, and regrets that some may have felt offended".
Boomerangs have played an important role in Aboriginal culture for thousands of years as objects of work and leisure. They have also become popular mass-produced souvenirs.