Last week, H&M saw controversy over social media due to an ad they featured of a child of color wearing an offensive hoodie. The green garment read, "Coolest Monkie in the Jungle," which didn't sit well among the African American community. The retailer saw music star The Wknd sever ties with the company along with protests in South Africa that resulted in destruction of one of its stores.
Reports later surfaced that H&M's marketing team consisted of an all-white panel of workers, which didn't help their cause either. How would one sum up the carelessness that H&M caused? While any global company is always liable to create a mistake or make a bad choice in the distribution of product(s), should companies be responsible for creating a better research format? People of color make up 64 percent of the Swedish company's trending clothes. Boycotting has always been optional, but it may beg the question, does H&M actually care?
The owner and creative consultant of 8.16, Josh Smith, provided his take on the issue:
I find it hard to believe that every creative director, marketing manager, stylist, and photographer didn’t know that this wouldn’t be a global issue. Africans = Richness, Culture, Innovation, Exuberance. Lastly, they are Kings and Queens. The fashion industry has shown many references to African culture in tribal prints, elaborate jewelry, bold makeup, full lips, dreadlocks, and dark skin without stating the original source to People of Color. This is a time where we all can reference one another and also give credit to our creative sources.
In this age of social media, we tend to forget to do more research than what we see on Instagram. So to sum up my response to H&M, do your research if you haven’t. While you are googling the influence of African Americans in fashion, take time to notice a young Black King Christian Combs, son of Diddy. He opened the Dolce & Gabanna Show at Milan Fashion Week and was presented as a King. This is more than enough influence to the fashion industry that People of Color are no strangers to royalty.