United Kingdom

Should Topman really sell mock stab vests to impressionable teens? Campaigners attack fashion house

Anti-knife crime campaigners have accused Topman of glamorising violence by selling sleeveless jackets which resemble stab-proof vests.

The range of gilets are marketed as 'tactical' vests by the clothing chain. French company Sixth June designed the jackets, which are on sale for between £26 and £55.

Campaigners have criticised Topman – owned by Sir Philip Green's Arcadia group – for selling the clothing amid an epidemic of knife crime. 

Mock vests: Anti-knife campaigners have spoken out over the sale of the 'tactical' vests

Controversial:  A range of gilets can be snapped up for between £26 and £55 through Sixth June 

There were three fatal stabbings in London over the course of about 12 hours on Friday alone. And little more than a week ago, terrorist Usman Khan stabbed two people to death near London Bridge.

Critics include the father of Damilola Taylor, the ten-year-old schoolboy who was fatally stabbed in 2000 in a killing that shocked the nation. Richard Taylor said: 'I am totally disappointed that fashion houses like Topman should be selling such a vest.

'I am totally against it, especially selling it at this critical time and simply to make money. They want young people to buy it.

'They should not be glamorising this culture – we are fighting tooth and nail against knife violence and are mourning the death of two young people last week.'

Hitting back: Damilola Taylor's father Richard Taylor said Topman 'should not be glamorising this culture' given the scale of knife violence

Murdered: Damilola Taylor, 10, was stabbed in the leg with a broken bottle as the schoolboy walked home from a library in Peckham, south London, during November 2000

Anti-knife campaigner Jen Lock, of Lives Instead Of Knives, said: 'It's totally irresponsible. Where do these people come up with these ideas?

'That is feeding off the UK's knife crime epidemic and someone is trying to make money out of it. It's exploiting young people and promoting what the rest of us are trying to discourage or turn people away from.' 

Members of the public have also voiced their disgust at the range.

One wrote on social media: 'I can't believe Topman are selling clothing that's designed to look like a stab vest.'

In France, Sixth June describe the gilets as 'imitation bulletproof vests', adding: 'This item is not a professional product and will not protect against bullets.'

Ministry of Justice figures revealed there were 22,306 knife or dangerous weapon offences dealt with in England and Wales in the 12 months to June, up from 21,314 in the same period the previous year.

Paying tribute: Floral bouquets were left in memory of those stabbed to death on London Bridge attack 

Victims: Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, were both killed by Usman Khan in London

There have been sharp rises in knife crime outside London, with a 103 per cent rise in the West Midlands since 2014, compared with 48 per cent in the capital.

Topman failed to respond to a request for comment.      

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