Lush in Hot Water After Releasing Incense 'Inspired' By 2011 London Riots

In Depth

Lush Cosmetics, known for their organic products that are not tested on animals—particularly their bath bombs—is getting some unwanted attention from some London residents, who are offended by an incense they’ve created called Lavender Hill Mob, which was “inspired” by the aftermath of the 2011 London Riots.

The Riots occurred between August 4 and August 11, and were spurred by the death of Mark Duggan, a young black father and Tottenham resident who was shot by police. They eventually expanded across the country, as mass looting, property damage and fights with police broke out each night, resulting in several deaths and a few hundred injuries. According to Lush, they wanted to honor those in the Lavender Hill neighborhood of Clapham, London, who, during a night of particularly bad violence, chose to respond to the riots peacefully. As they explain in the description of the £10 scent Lavender Hill Mob (which, yes, is also the name of a 1951 movie)

Calming and meditative lavender and sandalwood incense to aid quiet contemplation amidst the violence of the world. In 2011, the streets of London burned as angry mobs looted and left a trail of destruction. As the rioters approached Lavender Hill in Clapham, the residents joined hands in a show of community spirit and solidarity to keep violence from their streets. We were inspired to create a calming incense to still the mind and remind us of the importance of community. Notes: lavender, sandalwood

The product is actually produced by a smaller team associated with Lush called Gorilla Perfume, who write of it:

Get incensed!
Join hands. Together we can resist the inevitable and turn the raging tide. Calm and cool, lavender blue…
A night of fire and terror. Alarms blaring, sirens wailing, London in flames as rioters left a trail of destruction behind. As the mobs approached the Lavender Hill neighbourhood the community stepped out together to defend their homes and each other.
Linking hands they stood united to face the marauding looters until they slunk back off into the night.
Us Gorillas say, “Burn incense, not cars”.

But according to several British outlets, some consumers are not impressed by this calming scent, especially because numerous stores were damaged during the riots. It’s unclear why they’re just getting upset about the scent now, given that it’s been sold by Lush for a few years.

In a statement, Lush PR rep Stephanie Boyd clarified that the product is a celebration of the resistance, not the riots themselves:

“Lavender Hill Mob incense was created as a celebration of what people did and their resistance to the riots, not the riots themselves.
“It is scented with calming lavender for this reason.
“Regarding reference to Lush making a profit from this product, it is sold online and in only one of our 933 shops worldwide.”

In another, much more nonsensical statement, another spokesman said:

“We have never stopped talking about the riots within Lush. It was a shock to the system to see such violent rage erupt on the streets of England – and it behoves all of us to keep discussing the issues that lead to this type of event, if we wish to prevent a repeat in the future.
“We hope that we don’t offend too often in our well meaning but all too human musings on what it is to live in our life and times, in a fractured and imperfect world at a time of great threats and great change.”

For what it’s worth, the two reviews of the product on Lush’s website are all positive.

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