Hollister, a surfer brand clothing line, flew in a group of buff, male, shirtless, American-appearing models dressed as lifeguards for a new store opening in Yeouido, South Korea, but not all the photos the models took left a good impression.
Yahoo! Shine reports that one model had a photo taken in front of a local tourist attraction making “slanty eyes,” which was bad enough, but the model exacerbated the offense when a Twitter user commented that many Asians liked the photo by saying, “Hahahaha they ruhhvvvv ittt!”
Another model was photographed discreetly giving the middle finger to the camera while posing with customers. Hollister has apologized for the models’ behaviors and said those involved have been fired.
The company also released the following statement:
“Hollister Co. and its parent company Abercrombie & Fitch value diversity and inclusion. In a recent incident in South Korea, a couple of associates did not adhere to these values. As a company, we do not tolerate inappropriate or offensive behavior. We terminated the associates involved as a result of their actions. On behalf of our more than 80,000 employees around the world who cherish our core values and our culture of diversity and inclusion, we sincerely apologize for the offense caused by these unauthorized, ill-considered actions.”
Fox News notes that this is hardly Hollister’s first go-round with charges of racism. In 2002, the store had to pull a line of t-shirts that pictured Asian-seeming men and mocked the English pronunciation of East Asians.
The apology and firing don’t seem to be enough to please some critics however.
“It’s offensive and racist to make ‘squinty eyes’ and speak gibberish to mock Asian accents. It’s good that Abercrombie & Fitch, the parent company of Hollister, has apologized,” Margaret Fung, Executive Director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), told Fox News. “But with its own track record of selling racist T-shirts (remember the ‘Wong Brothers Laundry Service’ caricatures?), Abercrombie obviously needs to do a better job of educating all of its employees to refrain from using racist Asian stereotypes.”