A racial slur slipped through H&M’s hierarchy and got printed on one of their products, prompting Canadian RnB star The Weeknd to criticise the company and decline to work with them in the future.
The clothing giant apologised on Monday for the offensive image appearing on its online store. The product snap depicts a black child model wearing a hooded sweatshirt that reads ‘coolest monkey in the jungle’.
H&M promised to drop the hoodie from its stores worldwide and opted to delete the product from their online catalogue.
The slogan has received backlash left and right on social media for its reference to ‘monkey’, a common racial slur. The Weeknd, who has Ethiopian heritage, took to Twitter to slam the company.
“i’m deeply offended and will not be working with H&M anymore” wrote the musician.
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) January 8, 2018
The company released a statement agreeing with those who were “upset about the image.”
“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.”
H&M said it would investigate how the image slipped through their filters and found its way into their shop.
“It is obvious that our routines have not been followed properly. This is without any doubt,” the company said. “We will thoroughly investigate why this happened to prevent this type of mistake from happening again.”
The corporate blunder is similar to Dove’s slip up this past October, when the company had to apologise for a Facebook ad that showed a black woman pulling up her shirt to reveal a white woman underneath. The ad was interpreted by many as unwittingly suggesting notions of racial hierarchy.
At the time, Dove said in a statement it was “committed to representing the beauty of diversity” yet, they had “missed the mark” with the clip.
Lola Ogunyemi, the black model who actually starred in the clip told the BBC she didn’t feel the ad offensive at all, and was actually upset at the controversy it sparked.