Protestors have been trashing H&M stores as the row over a controversial advert continues to rage.
The Swedish fashion giant has been facing a huge backlash recently when it posted an advert onto both its UK and US website that people have been labelling as ‘racist’.
On January 8 an advert for a £7.99 green hooded children’s top emblazoned with the phrase ‘Coolest Monkey In The Jungle’ was taken down after people noticed that it was modelled by a black child while the other items in the range were modelled by white children.
The advert went viral on Twitter as thousands took to the site to criticise the store for its astonishing lack of awareness pointing out that ‘monkey’ has been a long term racist slur.
Karamo Brown voiced his anger writing:
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
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
For some critics though complaining online just wasn’t enough with activists in South Africa taking to H&M stores across the country to trash them
In at least four malls the police were called and forced to fire rubber bullets at protestors as they tore the stores apart.
Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters, the country’s radical opposition party, ganged up and wore uniforms as they swept through the shops which included H&M’s flagship store in Sandton.
#EFF protesters have shut down #H&M in Canal Walk Cape Town because they are furious over the company's #coolestmonkeyinthejungle t-shirt modelled on a black child. @TeamNews24 pic.twitter.com/NfwLC9pKiw
— Jenni Evans (@itchybyte) January 13, 2018
In videos and photos posted to Twitter protestors can be seen trashing displays, pushing mannequins over, pulling down clothes rails and chanting.
The chaos began as the stores opened this morning for Saturday trading and it is clear that it was well organised in advance.
Floyd Shivambu, spokesman for the party, praised the action, tweeting:
That H&M nonsense of a clothing store is now facing consequences for its racism. All rational people should agree that the store should not be allowed to continue operating in South Africa.
Well done to Fighters who physically confronted racism.
All the stores of that racist retailer H&M South Africa are CLOSED. Racism must fall and we will never tip toe around racists.
— Floyd Shivambu (@FloydShivambu) January 13, 2018
The global retailer is yet to respond to today’s events.
It previously issued an apology on Instagram for the advert stating:
We understand that many people are upset about the image of the children’s hoodie. We, who work at H&M, can only agree.
We’re deeply sorry that the picture was taken and we also regret the actual print.
Therefore, we’ve not only removed the image from our channels but also the garment from our product offering.
Our position is simple – we have got this wrong and we are deeply sorry.
While the store itself apologised, the mother of the child in the photo has labelled the backlash ‘unnecessary’.
Terry Mango, mother of five-year-old Liam, has no problem with the advert and took to social media to endorse it.
She wrote on Facebook:
That’s my son… I have been to all photo shoots and this was not an exception, everyone is entitled to their opinion about this.
This is one of hundreds of outfits my son has modelled… stop crying Wolf all the time, unnecessary issue.
Well people the mother ( #TerryMango ) of the black child in the #H&M ad basically say 'she nah cough suh why unno a vomit' @Regranned from @thegreentealivecastdotcom ______________________________________#greentea #thegreentealivecastdotcom #hennessandmauritz #fashion #racism #blackboyjoy #melanin #trending #childmodel
Let’s just hope the store has learnt its lesson.
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.