Fashion retailer H&M is apologizing for an online ad featuring an African-American child modeling a sweatshirt that read “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle.” H&M, a fashion retailer out of Sweden, ran the advertisement, which was considered racist by many, on its British website. Several celebs have spoken out about the offensive ad that is being called tone deaf and racially insensitive.
H&M Releases A Statement To Apologize For Their Racial Insensitivity
The Chicago Tribune shared a statement from H&M where they admit that they messed up.
“We understand that many people are upset about the image. We, who work at H&M, can only agree. We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken, and we also regret the actual print. Therefore, we have not only removed the image from our channels, but also the garment from our product offering globally.
“It is obvious that our routines have not been followed properly. This is without any doubt. We will thoroughly investigate why this happened to prevent this type of mistake from happening again.”
H&M was responding to the wave of criticism that wondered what anyone with sense could be thinking by putting the racially insensitive hoodie on the child of color while dressing the white child model in another hoodie that read “Survival Expert.”
New York Times columnist Charles Blow wondered if H&M had lost their minds.
— INSIDER (@thisisinsider) January 8, 2018
Retail Consultant Says H&M Needs To Do Better
The Washington Post spoke to retail strategist Wendy Liebmann, who said that H&M needed to get on top of this major racial faux pas to mitigate the stain on their reputation. Liebmann says that, sadly, things like this can happen when a company like H&M has its headquarters in Sweden and is then trying to achieve success in an American or British market. But even so, it is their responsibility to understand foreign cultures and socially acceptable themes.
“This is something that is relevant across the world. So not to be sensitive to that is an everyday issue; it’s not just the times we live in. This is a consciousness that we should all have at any time — not just at these heightened times.”
Liebmann adds that a decade ago, a PR crisis like the one H&M is trying to handle would have blown over quickly, but between the internet and social media, the flames are still being understandably stoked.
“We’re much more sensitive and much more overt in expressing ourselves.”
Liebmann is suggesting that H&M carefully examine their entire line to make sure they don’t drop the ball again.
It's what they deserve! ???? https://t.co/sUVzAT6SrL
— Teen Vogue (@TeenVogue) January 8, 2018
This Is Not The First Time H&M Stepped Over A Racial Or Cultural Line
Vogue UK says that celebs like LeBron James and The Weeknd spoke out against H&M and the racist message implied with calling a child of color a monkey. The Weeknd, who has modeled for H&M in the past, announced that he was severing all ties with the company over their racial insensitivity.
“[I] woke up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo. I’m deeply offended and will not be working with H&M anymore.”
This is not the first time that H&M has stepped over the line of cultural or racial insensitivity. In 2016, H&M sold a scarf that was a copy of a Tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl, and also a vest featuring a Star of David with a skull in the center.