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Fashion News: H&M In the Hot Seat for Controversial Hoodie

January 15, 2018

hm_logo-thumbCNN reported on January 10, 2018 that many artists and celebrities were ditching the highly acclaimed global fashion brand for promotion of the hoodie that said, “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle.”  What made them think this would be an acceptable promotion modeled by a young black boy when it is obvious that this would offend so many people on so many levels?

This issue was first brought to the attention of AtStudio5 last week.  It really got under the skin of celebrities and sponsors who have separated themselves from the global brand, claiming this is not acceptable and is insensitive in nature.  But let’s think about this for a second.  Didn’t global brands such as Banana Republic and Tommy Hilfiger face similar backlashes for their insensitive promotions and whatever statements that were made?  People were upset about it, yes, and even there were lawsuits and boycotts, but people got over it, forgot about it, and found something else to be mad about.

Customers who heard about the promotion just shrugged it off knowing this was not H&M’s intentions to offend anyone.  They were greatly impacted by having promoted the image and acted swiftly in taking it down.  Now here’s the thing, although they sent out the apology, the page where the apology was has also been taken down.  In my opinion it should have been left up for at least two weeks because that is about how long people are going to be mad.  Believe what I tell you.  They will find something else to be mad about.

In the last few days there have been reports of stores being vandalized and destroyed, and workers quitting.  Why?  In case people have not been paying attention, the stores did not put up the promotion of the hoodie, corporate did.  If you want to be mad at anyone, be mad at Corporate who first saw it be “cute.”  And what does destroying the stores prove or solve?  What point did it actually make other than those being caught on camera being who should be sought after to be brought to justice for the damage they caused?

All we could do is boycott them, but why?  Why waste the time?  After all all it was is a hoodie that they modeled a young black boy in.  They didn’t get caught in a slave trade, they did not openly discriminate against anyone, and they do manage to uphold their equal employer opportunity statement, therefore why spend time going through all of this nonsense.  Not excusing H&M for what they did, but people tend to take things further than they need to go.  They’ve lost celebrity support and a drop in the stock market.  I think this is punishment enough.

In case you didn’t catch the apology H&M posted, I did receive it in my email last week from H&M Fashion News.  Here is a snippet:

“To all customers, staff, media, stakeholders, partners, suppliers, friends and critics. We would like to put on record our position in relation to the image and promotion of a children’s sweater, and the ensuing response and criticism. Our position is simple and unequivocal – we have got this wrong and we are deeply sorry.”

~~H&M

Although the apology has since been taken down, it is without consequence that H&M is going to go on to promote their brands in the face of racial scrutiny and controversy.  It goes without saying that they will bounce back from this because people will get tired of being stupid by destroying stores, even though it was not the stores who promoted the ad, but it was corporate who should have a hard talking to.

The mother of the young boy has gone on to say “get over it.”  She does not seem to be hurt by the ad, which makes her a woman of reasoning and understanding.  If she can see the situation as not a huge deal to get bent over shape over or enough to think irrationally, why can’t those who saw fit to become destructive and violent, quit their jobs, and want to throw stones?  Why is destroying property often the first go-to decision when things come up that they do not agree with?  Sadly enough the stores that were destroyed were in South Africa by protesters in reaction to the ad, and there were workers who quit their jobs in the face of retaliation against the global brand.

We as a people do not stop to think before we react.  Protesters on some levels do not know what peaceful protesting means.  Too, there are those, including myself, who saw the incident as simply insensitive and distasteful.  I was not offended by it because I know it was not their intentions to upset anyone.  I say this because H&M is not the only one who has come under fire for promoting ads deemed racists.

In closing, H&M recognized immediately the impact the promotion had on them and how it impacted their sales and the place in the stock market.  It was offensive to the public as a whole.  But some people are smart enough to know where to draw the line and know how to let it go.  They made efforts to remove the promotion and the image.  Let’s move past this and act like civil people.

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