H&M South Africa Has Worst Response Ever to Diversity Criticism

H&M South Africa Has Worst Response Ever to Diversity Criticism

Company says white models portray a more "positive image."

Published November 11, 2015

H&M came under fire last week after its launch campaign in South Africa featured only white models. Rather than apologize and promise to do better, the retail giant made matters much, much worse by attempting to defend itself on Twitter.

“H&M’s marketing has a major impact and it is essential for us to convey a positive image," the company tweeted. "We want our marketing to show our fashion in an inspiring way, to convey a positive feeling.”

So, sounds like what H&M is trying to say is that only white models are "inspiring" and "convey a positive feeling." At least, that's how Twitter interpreted the remarks.

The company issued an apology for its misguided (at best) reasoning:

"H&M regrets the response to a social media message that was recently aired on Twitter and wishes to clarify the intention of the message. In no way does H&M state that positivity is linked to an ethnic group. H&M is proudly a global brand that embraces all people who are inspired by fashion, regardless of ethnic background, gender or culture. We wish to [apologize] if our message has caused [offense] in any way as this was not the intention."

The statement is being met with plenty of side-eye, but it's not yet clear if the gaffe will affect H&M's operations in the country.

(Photo: Anna Webber/Getty Images for H&M)

Written by Evelyn Diaz

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