H&M's Apology for Tone-Deaf 'Monkey' Sweatshirt Misstep 'Not Enough'

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H&M’s "monkey" sweatshirt debacle is yet another sad reminder of how much more work needs to be done when it comes understanding the implications that can arise behind certain images and messaging. The Sweden-based global fashion chain is learning that firsthand after a photo of a young black male modeling a hoodie imprinted with the phrase “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” went viral earlier this week (Jan. 8). 

In the coming days and weeks, it will be interesting to see what the eventual fallout will be for H&M. Will other music artists decline to associate with the multi-billion-dollar chain? What further steps will the firm take to recalibrate its in-house sensitivity meter? 

In the latest twist to the H&M saga, Terry Mango, who has identified herself in social media posts as the mother of the young black model, dismissed the outcry in a Facebook post. “Get over it,” she wrote. “Stop crying wolf all the time.”

In the meantime, H&M’s U.K. website is currently offering another kids’ sweatshirt — this one emblazoned with the message “I Will Change the World!” Hopefully, H&M is taking the full measure of those words to heart as the company re-examines its tone-deaf misstep. For others, it’s a heads-up to reassess their own cultural checks and balances.