Canadian singer, songwriter, and record producer Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, popularly known as The Weeknd, has decided to sever ties with the clothing giant H&M after the Swedish company posted a controversial photo of a black child modeling a hoodie that read "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle" on its website.
On Monday, the singer, who recently broke up with girlfriend Selena Gomez, tweeted,
"Woke up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo. I'm deeply offended and will not be working with H&M anymore." A source close to the singer confirmed to Rolling Stone that the artist is no longer working with H&M.
Clothing giant H&M has apologized and removed the image of a black boy in a sweatshirt with the words "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle"
The Weeknd has been associated with H&M since 2017. He has modeled for the retailer’s products and collaborated with the company for his XO brand.
The Weeknd has decided to sever ties with clothing giant H&M after "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle" advertisement campaign
Backlash over the image, which was recently advertised on the company's website in the UK, spread fast on social media, with celebrities and the public labeling the ad as racially insensitive.
H & M (Horrible Merchandise).... We Got Some 4 Y'all Monkey Azz Doe....?????? pic.twitter.com/cdrJhc4vJN— Plies (@plies) January 9, 2018
One user said,
"So the black kid gets to wear the H&M sweater with "Coolest monkey in the jungle" and the white kid with "Survival expert." This is beyond disgusting. It's a projection of your neo-colonial thinking. You won't see me anywhere near your shops these days".
H&M issued a statement to address the controversy. It has also apologized for the online advertisement.
The Weeknd has been associated with H&M since 2017. He has modeled for the retailer’s products and collaborated with the company for his XO brand
"We sincerely apologize for offending people with this image," the company told USA Today.
“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."
The company further said, "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".
H&M is not the only brand to have suffered public outcry over its advertisement campaign. Brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, Urban Outfitters and Zara have had their share of controversies in the past.