H&M came under fire over the weekend when social media helped circulate a photo of a young Black boy wearing one of the brand's sweaters, which read, "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle." While some argued the brand didn't mean offense with the pairing and others called for an all-out boycott, pretty much everyone agreed that the retailer should have known better.
Now, one of H&M's most famous faces is entering the fray. Though H&M already issued an apology, on Monday, The Weeknd — who has twice collaborated with the Swedish fast-fashion megalith and performed at its Spring 2017 fashion show — took to Twitter to announce that he would be breaking ties with H&M.
"woke up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo," he tweeted alongside a screenshot of the boy in the sweatshirt. "i'm deeply offended and will not be working with @hm anymore..."
The Weeknd, whose birth name is Abel Tesfaye, released his second collection with H&M last September; there has not been official word on when the next collaboration might be released or how long the partnership was intended to last. We're guessing Tesfaye's bottom line won't suffer too much, though — he still has a successful partnership with Puma.
We've reached out to H&M for comment and will update with any further information.
UPDATE, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 7:54 a.m.: Early on Tuesday morning, H&M further addressed its recent controversy by posting the following statement to its Instagram. It reads in part: "It's obvious that our routines haven't been followed properly. This is without any doubt. Well thoroughly investigate why this happened to prevent this type of mistake from happening again."
The full statement is listed below.
UPDATE, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 8:20 a.m.: On Tuesday night, performer G-Eazy also took to Twitter to announce he would be ending his upcoming partnership with H&M. "I can't allow for my name and brand to be associated with a company that could let this happen," he says in a Note screenshot.
Meanwhile, H&M has released a longer version of its original apology. It can be read in full below:
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.
UPDATE, Saturday, Jan. 13, 3:10 p.m.: According to BBC, the controversial hoodie caused members of the left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to ransack six H&M stores in South Africa on Saturday. Video and images shared over social media show the protestors trashing displays and throwing clothes all about the store. The Swedish retailer has now released a statement on Twitter, which you can read below, saying that they will temporarily close the store.
UPDATE, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 11:10 a.m.: As a result of an internal review, H&M has reportedly hired a diversity leader, per The Cut, "to drive [their] work forward." Meanwhile The Cut has also reported that for "security reasons," the boy featured in the image, Liam Mango, and his family have been forced to move from their home in Stockholm.