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H&M slammed after 'white models are positive' tweet

JUST WEEKS after its launch in South Africa, clothing retail giant H&M has come under fire after suggesting that they intentionally use only white models to portray a “positive image”.

South African blogger Tlalane Letlhaku spotted the omission of black models in an advertising campaign and asked the company, via Twitter, whether they had a reason for the lack of diversity.

"Most, if not all your posters in store have no black models. Please work on that to appeal to everyone," she said.

The company soon hit back a series of tweets via its official Twitter, confirming: "H&M's marketing has a major impact and it is essential for us to convey a positive image."

"We want out marketing to show our fashion in an inspiring way, to convey a positive feeling," they said. "We work with a wide range of models and personalities throughout all our marketing both online, outdoor and in store."

"Our marketing policy, campaign productions and work is something we constantly discuss internally and with creative professionals."

The response triggered a wave of criticisms slamming the Swedish company for describing solely white models as ‘inspiring’.

"Flip we've got enough issues in South Africa. H&M can actually pack up and go back to the Northern hemisphere. It's actually too much now," Twitter user ‏@Sineaux wrote.

‏@faranaaz added: "Remember that time H&M came to South Africa and insulted everyone? Oh yeah, that was this morning."

Black South Africans make up 79 per cent of the total population.

Following widespread outrage, the company has since issued an apology citing that they had been misunderstood.

"We’re sorry that the reply given by us in social media wasn’t clear enough," they said. "By a positive image we mean that we use a mix of models with different ethnic backgrounds in our campaigns."

"H&M is proud to be in 61 countries across the world and welcome all people inspired by fashion regardless of ethnic background, gender or culture.

"We apologise if we have upset anyone as this wasn’t our intention."

H&M South Africa also expressed "regret" in a series of tweets.

"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," they wrote.

"In no way does H&M state that positivity is linked to an ethnic group," they said. "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 apologise if our message has caused offence in any way this is not the intention."

They revealed that "throughout the years we have worked with many models from various ethnic backgrounds in our campaigns," and proceeded to list the models from ‘ethnic’ backgrounds it had worked with including Naomi Campbell, Alek Wek and Jourdan Dunn who fronted the recent sell out Balmain collaboration.

But the company again come under scrutiny for listing white American model Kendell Jenner, the younger sister of Kim Kardashian.

“Do they think Kendall Jenner is a woman of colour?” South African lifestyle website Women24.com asked.

The company has yet to respond to the request for clarification on why Jenner was included in the list nor has it made a commitment to amending its present South African marketing.

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