American department store, #Nordstrom has shown that the power behind social activism can work. The company recently announced that they would remove the products included in Italian #fashion house Moschino’s capsule collection, titled Just Say Moschino, which sparked outrage on account of the images of pills that adorn them.

Nordstrom the first retailer to bow to pressure.

Randy Anderson, who introduces himself as an addiction counsellor based in Minneapolis, used Change.org to create a petition against the collection. Anderson urged Moschino themselves, SAKS and other fashion buyers to boycott the capsule collection on account of the irresponsible message he believes it sends to the world.

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The petition claims that the ‘items… which include the Chain-Strap Prescription Bottle Bag and Printed Backpack, will most likely promote more drug use’. And asks the retailers if they ‘have any idea of the message’ they are ‘sending to those who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to a drug overdose?’

The petition which has to date accrued over 2,200 signatures was enough to spur Nordstrom into action. The retailer announced on Friday that they would remove the collection from their website and stores after the ‘constructive feedback’ they received from ‘concerned customers’ about the line.

Not the first pill designs for Moschino designer Scott.

The Italian fashion house which is known for it’s bright, in your face iconography, has produced previous collections featuring fast food and cigarettes.

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Not to mention, the chief designer for Moschino, Jeremy Scott, released designs featuring pills back in 2011, which didn’t raise an eyebrow at the time.

Many in the fashion world have accepted the collection as a tribute to the cult classic novel Valley of the Dolls, written by Jacqueline Susann and published in 1966. The novel follows three female friends who depend upon pills to get through the trials of life. The connection between Moschino’s collection and Valley of the Dolls is clear when we consider that the label’s Spring / Summer 2017 collection is titled Paper Dolls. The two collections were released together at Milan Fashion Week in September. While all this was going on, fashion week didn't go too well for Kanye West.

American pill problem.

This controversy may seem a little bit like a storm in a teacup to some. After all, fashion labels often produce pieces which play on the themes found in society. This is part of what art does, it prompts us to question and think. But does Anderson have a point? His claim that the accessories ‘will most likely’ promote further drug abuse lack evidence.

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But there is no lack of evidence surrounding America’s prescription drug addiction epidemic.

The problem which Sussann depicted in her 1960’s novel has only worsened over time. The Center for Disease Control asserts on their website that ‘since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. nearly quadrupled’ and further that they ‘now know overdoses from prescription opioid pain relievers are a driving factor in the 15-year increase in opioid overdose deaths’. The numbers of deaths from drug overdoses reached an all-time high in 2014, with over 60% of these being connected to opioids. NIDA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, noted that last year Barack Obama and the Secretary of the Department of Health introduced programmes to attempt to deal with this spiralling problem.

A documentary which aired at this year's L.A. Film Festival addressed this issue.

It is unclear whether Moschino’s inclusion of pills on their designs will influence individuals in a culture where prescription drug abuse is already established. Perhaps, the controversy has simply sparked the discussion which Jeremy Scott’s designs were suggesting we needed to have.

What is certain is that established brands, such as Nordstrom, are keen to avoid aligning themselves with anything which could present them as condoning such serious social issues. #Prescription Drug Epidemic