You'd think that after all of the kerfuffles over the past few years around insensitive, sexist, or otherwise off-colour apparel—everyone from Abercrombie & Fitch to Urban Outfitters to Target has come under fire—that retailers would be very, very careful about what they design and how they advertise it.
But it looks like the people in charge of the photo choices at Swedish retailer H&M were asleep at the wheel when they put up a picture of a black child sporting a green hoodie emblazoned with the words "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle." Did no one step back and think that this photo is insensitive and might appear racially charged?
So the black kid gets to wear the H&M sweater with "Coolest monkey in the jungle" and the white kid with "Survival expert". This is beyond disgusting. It's a projection of your neocolonial thinking. You won't see me anywhere near your shops these days @hm pic.twitter.com/5FS9HHvhKu— big_deen (@big_deen75) January 8, 2018
And it gets worse (if that's even possible) because all the other sweatshirts in the line are modelled by white children—including one hoodie that says "Mangrove Jungle Survival Expert."
The uproar online was swift, with shoppers decrying what one Twitter user called the company's "neocolonial" attitude, and total obliviousness, not to mention downright offensive choice of photos.
Musician The Weeknd, who collaborated with H&M last year, tweeted "woke up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo. i’m deeply offended and will not be working with @hm anymore..."
H&M quickly responded with an apology that was shared across their social media channels. The brand promised to review their internal policies so that this wouldn't occur again. They also took the item down from their website, although you can still buy it in the U.K.