Observations and ideas about race, ethnicity and mixing.

H&M In Hot Water Again Over Cultural Misappropriation

Less than a month after H&M recalled an image of a black child modelling a hoodie with the slogan “coolest monkey in the jungle,” they have once more returned to the limelight and were forced to recall a range of socks with a pattern that appeared to resemble the word “Allah” written in Arabic. Although it was intended to be a lego holding a hammer, this illustration bares resemblance to the Arabic language. Throughout these controversies, high-profile figures have spoken out calling H&M’s image “offensive”, “irresponsible” and “racist”. Although they hired a diversity specialist, they should have already had heightened cultural sensitivity in both scenarios. Traditional tribal patterns, derogatory terms and prints are often seen in contemporary fashion despite their negative connotations and cultural misappropriation. It is critical to to be considerate and oppose these styles as they foster stereotypes and hurt identities. To keep clear of further controversies, fashion lines should have a strong commitment to addressing diversity and inclusiveness and be vigilant selecting designs.


Link: http://www.vogue.co.uk/article/hm-socks-allah-pattern


  1. mcnealc

    I saw that image on twitter so many times, it was so interesting how many different opinions and arguments there were about it and its message. The mother of the child if I remember correctly went on to say that people were being too sensitive which I found extremely interesting.

  2. Lauren

    I think that is is shocking that there have recently been so many controversies related to popular clothing brands. One would think that these companies would be especially conscious about cultural sensitivity, but after these controversies have arisen it is clear that this is not the case. I think that these companies should be extra conscious when making designs. I personally feel like it is not that difficult to make a pattern or design without making it offensive, but fashion lines need to have a strong commitment to addressing diversity in aspects other than their fashion pieces.

  3. jimminkc

    I remember during this time, so many people were saying that the people who made the hoodie didn’t mean for it to be offensive and that they didn’t know it was racist/offensive/In sensitive. I wonder what kind of training, if any, do people in the fashion companies have.

  4. yelda

    Racism through clothing is not okay and it is hard to believe that the people contributing to the production of certain pieces of clothing and its sales are not “aware” of some of the cultural misappropriation going on as well as some of the racists ways that clothes are being advertised. I think that companies such as H&M decide to be ignorant and know exactly what they are doing with their clothing line but continue with their ways because of revenue. Their morality and values have not been challenged, so we have to push.

  5. entsiee

    It is crazy to me how capitalists are made up of ordinary people yet they don’t act like they have a should in them. A clothing company doing something offensive has become too common and we are always quick to call them out behind our screen but we really don’t do anything significant about it. We still end up buying their clothes or whatever they are selling and forgot about what they did when it’s about two weeks later. I wish we would stop or do less of internet activism and go out to actually do something about things. People nowadays engage in slacktivism/lazy activism and we are all oaky with it. I also find it interesting how the mother of the child is saying we’re all overreacting. When people are getting paid to do something, they quickly forgot about their morals or limited to to remember their morals.

    • umutonik

      I agree with you on this idea of lazy activism and not to be a cynic but sometimes I get the sense that is now trendy to be “woke”. In the sense that when something like the H&M scandal happens people are always so quick to react and there is so much attention on what celebrities will do, however there is never much follow up. Because it is clear there is some ignorance and carelessness on the part of these brands, but as a society we should be able to use this a changing moment. Raise more awareness to these issues and do something that is more than tweeting.

      • harneyk

        I agree with you completely. I think the effect of social media on activism has kind of been a double-edged sword because on one hand, it’s easier to spread awareness and educate yourself on things than ever before but it’s also easy to identify as an activist while not causing any change. If people were actually as outraged by the cultural insensitivity and blatant racism of fashion companies such as H&M as they seem like they are through their tweets and Facebook posts more action would be taken. But where are the protests? Where are the boycotts? Until the money flowing into these companies is disrupted, the message will never get through no many how many “woke” posts you reblog.

  6. sarmiena

    Cultural misappropriation occurs way too often, however only heard about when a trendy and huge business company like H&M does it. I would have to agree with Entsiee’s comment about how people angrily speak out about how offensive it is yet, it takes a couple of weeks for them to forget about it and continue buying the clothing. Controversies like these make some feel furious, however I only hope that we can turn that into an act of activism to cause serious change.

  7. Eve Giordano

    Very interesting post, and a sad reminder of how racially-insensitive our society still is today. I think the fact that H&M had to hire a “diversity specialist”, is ridiculous in and of itself. It should be common sense what is and isn’t appropriate to put on clothing, let alone children’s clothing. I have seen this also happening in makeup tutorials on youtube, where white females are showing how to do “tribal-festival themed” makeup, truly a misappropriation of Native American culture. When will it stop I wonder?

  8. harneyk

    I think part of this article about the hoodie that’s been overlooked is the reaction to it. In the article, there were screenshots of posts of the image being redrawn or doctored featuring positive messages on the hoodie instead, such as “Black is Beautiful” or “King of the World”. What a beautiful response to something that was so hurtful.

  9. heronca

    I think it is ridiculous that people would view this as anything other than racism.

  10. warrickj

    I agree that nowadays, people are too accepting of blatant racism. The morals of people within this day and age continues to dwindle away given the comfortability of being disrespected not only by society, but by corporations in which we continuously support.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2024 Mixing It Up

Academic Technology services: GIS | Media Center | Language Exchange

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑