The Weeknd promptly cut his ties with H&M after the discovery of a racist advertisement on their retail site.
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) January 8, 2018
The Weeknd, also known as Abel Tesfaye, had been modeling for ad campaigns and collaborating with the Swedish clothing company for his XO brand since 2017.
The photo in question includes a young black boy wearing a hoodie that says, “the coolest monkey in the jungle.” The other children’s hoodies posted on the website – worn by young white boys – have designs that say “Mangrove Jungle Survival Expert” or have an animal print. While some claim that H&M’s offensive advertisement was merely a tactless mistake, many social media users believe this could only have been intentional.
Exactly. There were so many steps in this process that it’s asinine to pretend this fell through the cracks.
Someone has to design this
Someone has to bring it in
Someone has to cast the models
Someone has to photograph
Someone has to edit the images
Someone has to put it online
— Edward Browden (@edwardbrowden) January 9, 2018
Several musicians and stars have also called out H&M for their insensitivity, such as style blogger Stephanie Yeboah, rapper Chris Classic, musician Questlove, and Manchester United soccer player Romelu Lukaku.
Chris Classic and Romelu Lukaku have posted the photo on their Instagram but edited to exhibit much different slogans.
I made this because I dont wanna see this young Kings face anymore with the shirt he was hired to wear by H&M. I’m almost certain the Persson Family and their $31 Billion wont care in Sweden but… this lil guy will see his pics and the mockery one day because the internet doesnt erase… so I just hope he gets to see this one or any like it that celebrate him. #mysavoirfaire
Questlove employs Instagram as well, posting the original photo with the caption, “I’m sure the apologies are a coming. And the ads will be pulled. I’m certain there will Be media fixers and whatnot and maybe a grand gesture like a donation to some charity (donations under these circumstances are the corporate version #SomeOfMyBestFriendsAre move if there ever was one) all this tells me about @HM is that the seats in the boardroom lack something…wanna take a guess?”
Rapper Pusha-T gave his two cents, too, tweeting that he would never shop at H&M again, “not even for Tshirts.”
In fact, many are threatening to boycott the brand like Pusha.
H&M’s official apology statement, issued to Pitchfork and posted on their Twitter, reads:
“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.”
However, this isn’t the first time H&M has slipped up, releasing offensive content; the company ran into trouble with PETA after putting the slogan, “Dogfight in a Random Alley,” on their garments a mere two months ago, in November of 2017. Twitter user @Felicia_Latter points out that H&M has displayed obvious signs of racism in the past.
Ain’t the first time though. pic.twitter.com/O0ruSyLKjU
— 16 January 🍼 (@Felicia_Latter) January 9, 2018