The cultural reckoning for retailer H&M may not be over after the company apologised for an advertisement that was seen as racially insensitive.
After the clothing brand released a photo showing a young black boy with a sweater claiming the wearer is “the coolest monkey in the jungle”, several musicians and artists decried the “coded” advert and vowed to ditch the brand.
“Woke up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo,” Canadian singer The Weeknd wrote on Twitter. “I’m deeply offended and will not be working with @hm anymore…”
That message was accompanied by the image of the young child posing in a green sweater with the message on front. The Weeknd began working with the clothing brand in 2017 with a modelling campaign.
The Weeknd wasn’t the only celebrity to push back against the clothing brand for the perceived racial insensitivity. Rapper Pusha T joined in, and said that he wouldn’t ever shop at H&M, “not even for T-shirts”.
Others took a different tact to express their distaste over the shirt’s message. The rapper Chris Classic, for instance, quickly photoshopped the photo of the young boy with an image of a crown over the words, and added a king’s crown to his head as well.
I made this because I dont wanna see this young Kings face anymore with the shirt he was hired to wear by H&M. I'm almost certain the Persson Family and their $31 Billion wont care in Sweden but... this lil guy will see his pics and the mockery one day because the internet doesnt erase... so I just hope he gets to see this one or any like it that celebrate him. #mysavoirfaire
“The reason edition the picture of the young King was so easy is because its what I already consider worthy for my own young King and myself,” Chris Classic wrote in an Instagram post following the initial photoshopped post.
The second post featured his son wearing a hoodie with the same crown, but not photoshopped on this time.
H&M apologised for the “monkey” image Monday, and removed the image from its website as well. They promised to pull the shirt from stores worldwide in light of the controversy that had developed.
“We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken, and we also regret the actual print,” the company said in a statement. “Therefore, we have not only removed the image from our channels, but also the garment from our product offering globally.”