by Brooke Buchanan
The recent mishap of the new clothing line by H&M made one thing clear: it was blown way out of proportion. Those unaware of what H&M did, the company released a photo on the British version of their website of a young, African-American boy wearing a hoodie that says, “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle.”
Although this phrase seems racist to Americans, the Swedish rooted store meant nothing by this. The company said, “as a global brand, we have a responsibility to be aware of and attuned to all racial and cultural sensitivities – and we have not lived up to this responsibility this time.”
For the geographic location of the company’s headquarters, the phrase was nothing more than a cute saying for a child’s shirt, but for other countries, this saying caused “offense.”
According to the Washington Post, H&M apologized for the clothing by saying, “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.” The company is recycling the hoodies.
As a result of the advertisement fail, G-Easy as well as the Weekend cut ties with the company. The two celebrities were supposed to have a clothing line featured at the H&M stores, but chose to cancel them after the advertisement was posted.
In addition to the “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” hoodie, another children’s hoodie was modeled by a Caucasian boy which reads, “Mangrove Jungle Survival Expert.” While this may have caused controversy to some, the hoodie was intended only as a cute design for children: nothing more.
Despite all the controversy over these children’s hoodies, Terry Mango, the African-American boy’s mother, believes nothing is wrong with the photos. According to her social media comments, she stated, “Stop crying wolf all the time. Unnecessary issue here, get over it.”
Although the company presented the hoodie’s design poorly, nothing is wrong with this child’s clothing. Children’s clothing often have weird, quirky phrases on them, and this is no different. However, the “racial slur” printed on the hoodie is putting the company in a negative spotlight.
Since this company is opening their first store in West Virginia at the Grand Central Mall (located in Vienna) this year, this issue is close to home. Parkersburg will not likely be affected by the company’s poor design, due to its lack of diversity, but larger, city stores with a more diverse population of people probably will.
As many people do when a company does something to offend the population, some will boycott the company and refuse to shop there. However, the billion dollar company will not go bankrupt. Shoppers need to understand that what the company did wasn’t meant to offend people, and they sincerely apologize for their actions.
*The views expressed by the author of this article are not the opinions held by the Chronicle.