Anti-drug advocates on Long Island and across the country are criticizing a new fashion line inspired by prescription drugs.
An online petition started last week is calling for Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue to stop selling products from a collection by the Italian clothing company Moschino. The collection includes a bright orange purse in the shape of a prescription pill bottle, dresses decorated with mock labels for prescription drugs and backpacks covered in multicolored pills.
Nearly 1,500 people have signed the online petition, including Teri Kroll, 58, of Lindenhurst, whose son Timothy died of a heart attack in 2009 after years of prescription painkiller addiction.
“I’m heartbroken that they would be allowed to sell this,” said Kroll, who works with several Long Island-based anti-drug advocacy groups. “This is not helping anyone working to fight this epidemic.”
Nordstrom stopped selling the collection, a spokeswoman for the department said Thursday afternoon.
Moschino defended the merchandise in an email to Fox News, saying there was never any intent to promote prescription drug abuse and there had been a misunderstanding of the collection’s underlying theme.
“The Moschino capsule collection was inspired by a play on the word ‘capsule’ translated literally as a collection of ‘capsule-themed’ products,” the company said. “A lesser exposed but equally relevant piece of the collection clearly states ‘Just say MoschiNO’ referencing the ‘Just Say No’ anti-drug campaign.”
A request for comment to Saks Fifth Avenue was not immediately returned Thursday.
Kings Park resident Linda Ventura, whose son Thomas died of a heroin overdose in 2012, says she will not be shopping at Saks until it also stops selling the merchandise.
“We’re in the height of this epidemic that’s affected thousands of people, and it’s just not something that you should be wearing on your arm as a pocketbook,” said Ventura, 56, who founded Thomas’ Hope, a foundation that promotes drug awareness and prevention.
Rihanna and model Bella Hadid, have been photographed with products from the line. Addiction expert Jeffrey Reynolds says he’s concerned the collection may glamorize prescription drug use.
“Celebrities are posing online with this merchandise and it’s sending a message to young people on Long Island and across the country that prescription drug use is not only OK, but something that should be praised,” said Reynolds, the CEO and president of the Mineola-based Family and Children’s Association, which provides addiction treatment.
A record 422 people died of opiate overdoses on Long Island in 2015, according to data compiled by the county medical examiner’s office.