H&M South Africa Closes Stores After Intense Backlash Over Racist Ad

Protesters gathered around six H&M locations in and around Johannesburg, prompting the fashion giant to temporarily close down all of its South African stores.



Retail giant H&M drew the ire of several customers who were upset over the fashion giant’s recent racist ad

The poster promoted an African-American boy wearing a hoodie that read, “Coolest monkey in the jungle,” while a white boy featured next to him wore the “Jungle survival expert” sweatshirt.

This marketing fail prompted at least two celebrities, The Weeknd and G-Eazy, to end their partnerships with H&M.   After facing severe backlash, H&M apologized — but the damage had already been done- several customers decided to boycott the ban.

Recently, according to Reuters, six H&M stores were targeted by the Economic Freedom over the shameful ad.  In one instance, police officers in riot gear reportedly fired rubber bullets to disperse the protesters. The police haven’t arrested anyone so far.


“No one should make jokes about the dignity of black people and be left unattended to. We make no apology about what the fighters did today against H&M. All over South Africa, H&M stores are closed because they called our children baboons,” said EFF leader Julius Malema.

As a result of these protests fueled by emotions, H&M has temporarily closed down all of its South African stores.


Though workers safety is important everywhere and all employers should prevent their workers from dangerous situations, it is a good time to remember that H&M is the very apparel brand whose negligence cost 21 workers their lives in Bangladesh. They died in a fire at an H&M supplier factory Garib & Garib which lacked critical safety elements, including proper fire exits.

The fire took place in 2010 and up until 2015, H&M refused to pay for the necessary factory repairs and renovations.

This just goes to show how the fashion brand has been using forms of discrimination in various operations other than its marketing strategy.

Thumbnail/Banner Image:  Reuters, Denis Sinyakov

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