H&M received an intense amount of social media scrutiny Monday for an ad featuring a black child wearing a sweatshirt with the slogan “coolest monkey in the jungle” written across the front, with Twitter users criticizing the brand for being racially insensitive. And after the retailer issued an apology and removed the image from the website, the fallout is still mounting.
The brand’s campaign star and collaborator, The Weeknd (né Abel Tesfaye), just announced on Twitter that he will no longer be working with the company.
“woke up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo. i’m deeply offended and will no longer be working with the company.anymore…” he wrote in a Tweet featuring a photo of the ad.
The musician starred in and curated H&M’s Spring Icons campaign in early 2017 and created a 18-piece collection of fall essentials for the brand last September. And while The Weeknd has since gone on to design for brands including Puma, but H&M marked the first big fashion collaboration for the star.
When his first campaign dropped, Andreas Löwenstam, Head of Design for menswear at H&M told PeopleStyle that “Abel’s taste and style perfectly fits the menswear mood of the season at H&M. He has such a great eye for the little details that matter, and for mixing together updated men’s classics for the perfect tailored streetwear look.”
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H&M addressed the backlash in a statement, writing, “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.” They have yet to address The Weeknd’s decision to end their partnership.
Other stars including The Roots’ Questlove weighed in on the matter writing on Instagram that the ad is telling about the brand: “all this tells me about @HM is that the seats in the boardroom lack something…wanna take a guess?”