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Puma accused of glamorising crime at London event

Sportswear brand accused of glamorising crime after hosting a drug and gang-themed party in central London

Pictured: Puma invited attendees by sending out wads of fake £50 notes and ‘trap phones’

Puma has been accused of glamorising crime after hosting a drug and gang-themed party in central London.

The sportswear brand invited people to its House of Hustle party in an abandoned Soho mansion by sending out wads of fake £50 notes and ‘trap phones’, low-tech phones used by drug dealers because they are less traceable.

The venue was covered in graffiti and decked out with dirty mattresses and blacked-out windows for the event, which aimed to celebrate ‘hustlers’ from the creative industries, such as DJs, tattoo artists and jewellery makers. Attendees were given business cards that read “turn on the trap line” – trapping being a term for drug-dealing.

The event, held in conjunction with JD Sports and marketing agency Urban Nerds, has been criticised for promoting crime and violence at a time of increased crime and violence in London.

Posting on Instagram, London social worker Amber Gilbert-Coutts said the party was “far from cool”, writing: “Adolescent drug dealing so often results in violence, exacerbated deprivation, and community pain.

“Although there were thankfully no reports of violence in affluent area of Soho in which the event was hosted, in other areas of the capital that night there were a staggering six stabbings in 90 minutes.”

A statement from Puma said: "Last week, the Puma House of Hustle set out to celebrate youth culture in line with our ‘Run the streets’ campaign. The campaign is designed to highlight young entrepreneurs who use their skills and talents to build businesses and have an impact on culture, whether it is through making jewellery, music, photography, or other creative pursuits.

"In our invitations to the event, we used the terms ‘trap’ and 'trapping' with the intention of the colloquial interpretation of 'hard work' and 'hustle' in a number of fields. Unfortunately, these words can in some contexts be associated with the illegal drug trade.

"We want to make clear that Puma in no way endorses or intends to glamorise drug culture. We never intended associations with drug usage, drug culture or drug dealing in any way and we regret any misunderstandings in this respect. We apologise for any upset or offence caused in the usage of this language."

  • Martin Ellis 17/04/2018

    Oh dear Lord, it's the crime of the century - people being "offended"! Get real, start taking responsibility for your own actions, and stop looking to blame "someone" for the actions of others. Puma aren't endorsing anything - they're just attempting to connect with a particular audience in a language that they assume will be understood. Of course if there's a subsequent crimewave off of the back of this event, I'll stand corrected. Meanwhile I'll try not to laugh too much at the faux indignation on display.

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