Fashion retailer H&M received harsh backlash on Monday, after an image featuring a black child in a sweatshirt that read “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” ran on their website.
Following the wave of social media criticism, the company issued a statement to USA Today, reading: “We sincerely apologize for offending people with this image of a printed hooded top. The image has been removed from all online channels and the product will not be for sale in the United States. We believe in diversity and inclusion in all that we do and will be reviewing all our internal policies accordingly to avoid any future issues."
Many Twitter users felt that the statement came up short considering the offensiveness of the ad.
After seeing the ad this morning, singer The Weeknd, who has worked with H&M for various projects since 2016, vowed to sever ties to the brand in a tweet. “Woke up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo. i’m deeply offended and will not be working with @hm anymore ... ”
In a statement issued to InStyle, H&M responded, reiterating the brand’s intent to distance themselves from the ad. “We completely understand and agree with his reaction to the image,” they wrote. “We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken, and we also regret the actual print. We have removed the image from all our channels and the sweater is no longer for sale in our stores. We will also look into our internal routines to avoid such situations in the future. We will continue the discussion with The Weeknd and his team separately.”
H&M followed-up with another apology on the company's website, which you can read in full here. "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 whereever it exists," they wrote. "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."