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H&M issues ‘unequivocal apology’ for black child posed in ‘coolest monkey’ hoodie


H&M has issued a more comprehensive formal apology after several days of criticism for posing a black child model in a hoodie that displayed the phrase “coolest monkey in the jungle.”

The image was featured on the company’s e-commerce site in the U.K. and soon made the rounds on social media. By Monday, critics were calling the company out for racial insensitivity (monkey is a term that has been used as a slur aimed at people of African descent). Some suggested a boycott of the brand. Others demanded an apology.

Even celebrities expressed their opinions with The Weeknd vowing to cut ties with the company. P. Diddy, T.I. and LeBron James all weighed in on social media. 

H&M’s first attempts at an apology on Monday set off another round of criticism from those who felt it just wasn’t enough.

So on Tuesday afternoon, the brand’s media relations division offered a more substantive apology on its social media channels and sent it to media outlets. Following is the apology in its entirety: 

H&M issues unequivocal apology for poorly judged product and image

 

To all customers, staff, media, stakeholders, partners, suppliers, friends and critics.

 

We would like to put on record our position in relation to the image and promotion of a children’s sweater, and the ensuing response and criticism.

 

Our position is simple and unequivocal – we have got this wrong and we are deeply sorry.

 

H&M is fully committed to playing its part in addressing society’s issues and problems, whether it’s diversity, working conditions or environmental protection – and many others. Our standards are high and we feel that we have made real progress over the years in playing our part in promoting diversity and inclusion. But we clearly haven’t come far enough.

 

We agree with all the criticism that this has generated – we have got this wrong and we agree that, even if unintentional, passive or casual racism needs to be eradicated wherever it exists. We appreciate the support of those who have seen that our product and promotion were not intended to cause offence but, 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.

 

This incident is accidental in nature, but this doesn’t mean we don’t take it extremely seriously or understand the upset and discomfort it has caused.

 

We have taken down the image and we have removed the garment in question from sale. It will be recycled.

 

We will now be doing everything we possibly can to prevent this from happening again in future.

 

Racism and bias in any shape or form, conscious or unconscious, deliberate or accidental, are simply unacceptable and need to be eradicated from society. In this instance we have not been sensitive enough to this agenda.

 

Please accept our humble apologies.


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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.