14/11/2012 10:20 GMT | Updated 05/12/2012 05:54 GMT

Victoria's Secret Apologises For 'Racist' Native American Headdress... After No Doubt Pulls Video

UPDATE: Charlotte Casiraghi 'Pulls A Victoria's Secret' In Native American Garb At Gucci Equestrian Event

Victoria's Secret has apologised for putting one of its knicker-clad models in a Native American-style headdress, amid criticism it was displaying ignorance towards tribal culture and history.

Lingerie model Karlie Kloss appeared on the catwalk this weekend wearing the floor-length item along with leopard-print panties and bra and high heels.

Headdresses are symbols of respect in Native American culture, AP reports, and are traditionally worn by war chiefs and warriors.

karlie kloss

Karlie Kloss wore a Native American headdress at the Victoria's Secret catwalk show

Speaking on behalf of Navajo Nation, spokesman Erny Zah said: "We have gone through the atrocities to survive and ensure our way of life continues... Any mockery, whether it's Halloween, Victoria's Secret - they're spitting on us.

"They are spitting on our culture, and it's upsetting."

The underwear firm issued the following apology via Facebook and Twitter and has promised not to include the outfit in any future broadcast or marketing materials.

On Wednesday nearly 5,000 responses to the apology had been left online, ranging from accusations of racism and threats to boycott the brand, to indifference and even gratitude.

victoria secret

Kloss herself also took to Twitter to make an apology:

Michelle Spotted Elk, who is married to a Lakota man, told AP: "When you see a Lakota chief wearing a full headdress, you know he is a very honourable man. He was a leader. He did a lot of honourable things for his people.

"It also has religious significance. With them, there's not a division between spirituality and their leadership."

Sasha Houston Brown, a member of the Santee Sioux tribe of Nebraska, agrees.

Writing for Indian Country Today, she says: "Perhaps it’s that warm Indian summer weather that seemingly makes non-natives so eager to sport culturally-demeaning faux Indian apparel and legitimise it under the guise of 'ignorance' or 'appreciation.'

"After all, it’s totally cool to be an oblivious racist these days. Whatever the case, there have been unusually high rates of playing Indian this season."

In light of the uproar, Jezebel makes several salient points on a piece entitled: When Is It OK? A Much-Needed Primer On Cultural Appropriation.

Katie JM Baker asks: "Why are fashion brands so bad at discerning the difference between cultural appropriation and appreciation - and, moreover, why don't they care about putting in enough effort to get it right?"

No Doubt fell foul of similar criticisms earlier this month after their music video for the single Looking Hot was aired.

It featured a cowboys-and-Indians theme with stereotypical tee-pees, smoke signals and headdresses.

Following negative feedback from the Native American community the band withdrew the video and issued the following statement on their website: "As a multi-racial band our foundation is built upon both diversity and consideration for other cultures.

"Our intention with our new video was never to offend, hurt or trivialise Native American people, their culture or their history. Although we consulted with Native American friends and Native American studies experts at the University of California, we realise now that we have offended people."


In February Navajo Nation filed a lawsuit against clothing firm Urban Outfitters alleging breach of trademark and violations of the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act.

The complaint was in relation to the firm's Navajo Hipster Panties and Flask, which it says it views as offensive in nature and a threat to the established Navajo brand.

Meanwhile in September, Victoria's Secret found itself in hot water with its Sexy Little Geisha line.

Race and pop culture blog Racialicious criticised the underwear retailer's controversial line for appropriating, sexualising and degrading Asian culture for Western consumption.

The Sexy Little Geisha outfit contained a mesh teddy with flirty cutouts and Eastern-inspired florals that promised an "exotic adventure".

It also included a matching removable obi belt, fan and chopsticks - all for a mere 98 dollars.

Since then, the US-based underwear retailer, who opened their first flagship store two months ago in the UK, has pulled the products from its online shop.