After Defiance Over Skirt With Saudi Flag, Designer Apologizes

Mowalola Ogunlesi faced a call for a boycott
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2023 4:42 PM CDT
After Defiance Over Skirt With Saudi Flag, Designer Apologizes
A supporter waves Saudi Arabia's national flag during a World Cup 2022 qualifying soccer match between Saudi Arabia and Japan in Saitama, north of Tokyo, in February 2022.   (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Mowalola Ogunlesi's initial reaction to the outcry over the miniskirt bearing the Saudi Arabian flag that she showed during London Fashion Week was not contrite. "Cry me a river," said one of the Nigerian designer's posts on X, CNN reports. "A mini skirt being an act of war in 2023 is so dystopian," said another. Later, facing threats of a boycott, Ogunlesi reversed. The flag usually isn't printed on clothing because it includes sacred elements; the kingdom generally prohibits the flag's use for commercial purposes, per the Saudi Gazette. Ogunlesi's skirts in the weekend show also featured flags of other nations, including Japan and the UK.

"After the show, I found that one of these flags—Saudi Arabia—features sacred words, and its use has caused great offense," Ogunlesi posted. "Now that I've been educated on this topic, I sincerely apologize for this." Miniskirts with graphic designs are an Ogunlesi trademark, per Essence; her spring collection featured a crucifix. Arab and Muslim fashion accounts immediately called on a distributor, FarFetch, to stop selling Mowalola items and threatened a boycott. "Thank you for holding me accountable," Ogunlesi wrote, "and I appreciate your understanding as I learn from this experience." (More Saudi Arabia stories.)

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