The Weeknd has cut ties with H&M after a racially insensitive photo surfaced on its website of a young black boy wearing a hoodie that says, “Coolest monkey in the jungle.”
“Woke up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo,” he wrote on Twitter. “I’m deeply offended and will not be working with H&M anymore.”
The item of clothing – and the context in which it was modelled – has been circulating on social media over the last couple days, with people asking how the brand could have slipped up.
.@hm this is inappropriate, offensive, and racist. Why is the white kid "a jungle survivor" and the black kid the "coolest monkey in the jungle"? How do you think this is okay? REMOVE this and the clothing piece. This is completely distasteful! #racist #hm https://t.co/uati7eI0Io pic.twitter.com/WSF9Wiksio— Selene Arianela (@ArianelaSelene) January 8, 2018
This is what happens when you don’t have people of color at the decision making table. #DiversityMatters— S. Wimberly-Hawkins (@2BGMEDIA) January 8, 2018
I’m sure the apologies are a coming. And the ads will be pulled. I’m certain there will Be media fixers and whatnot and maybe a grand gesture like a donation to some charity (donations under these circumstances are the corporate version #SomeOfMyBestFriendsAre move if there ever was one) all this tells me about @HM is that the seats in the boardroom lack something…wanna take a guess?
The Weeknd (real name: Abel Tesfaye) began collaborating with H&M in 2017, launching collaborative pieces under his XO brand and staring in multiple H&M campaigns.
Following the backlash, the Swedish retailer issued an apology and pulled the image from its website.
“We sincerely apologise for offending people with this image of a printed hooded top,” it said. “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.”
The company then made the decision to pull the item from its range completely, issuing another statement.
“We understand that many people are upset about the image. We, who work at H&M, can only agree. 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. It is obvious that our routines have not been followed properly. This is without any doubt. We will thoroughly investigate why this happened to prevent this type of mistake from happening again.”