High street giant H&M is facing huge backlash after posting a controversial advert, which has been labelled ‘racist’.
Shoppers are calling for people to boycott the Swedish fashion chain after they noticed the advert for a children’s hoodie last night, (7 January).
On both their UK and US websites, the store was selling a green hooded top emblazoned with the phrase:
Coolest Monkey In The Jungle.
It was modelled by a black child while the other items in the same category where modelled by white children.
Pointing out how the word ‘monkey’ has been a long-term racist slur, Twitter users took to social media to criticise the store and draw attention to its astonishing lack of awareness.
Christina Watkins wrote:
Uh oh, H&M. Can y’all explain why a black boy was selected to model a hoodie that says, ‘coolest monkey in the jungle’?
Someone didn’t think this through.
— Christina Watkins (@CWatkinsTV) January 8, 2018
Alex Medina added:
Yo H&M you need to explain yourself. What the hell is this?
In the year 2018 there’s no way brands/art directors can be this negligent and lack awareness.
If [you] look at other sweaters in same category they have white kids. We have to do better.
In the year 2018 there’s no way brands/art directors can be this negligent and lack awareness. If look at other sweaters in same category they have white kids. We have to do better. pic.twitter.com/Av4bS4t6yn
— alex medina (@mrmedina) January 8, 2018
Karamo Brown also voiced his anger tweeting:
This is disgusting and irresponsible. You know the history of racists using the term ‘monkey’ to demean people of African descent… and you put this on your website! ‘Coolest Monkey In the Jungle’!
@hm this is disgusting & irresponsible. You know the history of racist using the term “monkey” to demean people of African descent… and you put this on your website! ???? “Coolest Monkey In the Jungle” #SMH pic.twitter.com/IY877D2d8R
— Karamo Brown (@KaramoBrown) January 8, 2018
In the wake of the scandal, the image of the black child modelling the £7.99 top has since been taken down, although H&M are yet to release an official statement addressing the controversy.
However a spokesman told The Daily Mail:
This image has now been removed from all H&M channels and we apologise to anyone this may have offended.
The store is yet to respond to any of the complaints on social media.
This isn’t the first time the high street fashion chain has been accused of racism.
Two years ago, H&M opened its first stores in South Africa, in Sandton and Cape Town but it didn’t exactly go as planned.
Shockingly, there was a lack of black models on the posters which filled the stores and understandably, caused quite the backlash.
As reported by The Sunday Times, things were only made worse when H&M responded to the claims saying their intention was to convey ‘a positive feeling’.
By saying this, the company seems to be implying black models don’t fit in with the positive image they want to achieve.
Attempting to do some damage control, H&M apologised on Twitter saying:
Throughout the years we have worked with many models from various ethnic backgrounds in our campaigns.
Examples of models include: Naomi Campbell, Alek Wek, Kendall Jenner, Vladimir McCrary, Imaan Hammam, Liu Wen, Salma Hayek, to list a few.
Currently Joan Smalls and Doutzen Kroes feature in our Summer 2015 campaign. Aya Jones will feature in an upcoming campaign.
You’d have thought they’d have learnt from their previous mistakes?
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.