H&M’s Ethiopian made sweater ignites controversy
Sweden’s multinational clothing company, H&M (Hennes & Mauritz AB), one of the world’s most successful clothing companies is facing a backlash for featuring a young Sweden-based Kenyan model in one of its catalogues with a sweater emblazoned with the words “coolest monkey in the jungle”, that was allegedly sourced from an Ethiopian textile manufacturer.
The controversy has prompted the likes of popular Ethiopian-Canadian artist, Abel Tesfaye a.k.a. The Weeknd to end his association with it giving it a slew of negative reactions from consumers and artists. “Work up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo,” The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) said on Twitter. “I’m deeply offended and will not be working with @hm anymore.”
Meanwhile, the company apologized in a statement to deaf ears. “We completely understand and agree with his reaction to the image. “We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken and we also regret the actual print.”
Meanwhile, several sources told The Reporter that the infamous sweaters were sourced from Ethiopia. However, the company refused to confirm the rumors.
“We don’t have this information available”, the communication department of H&M said in a statement sent to The Reporter. “We kindly decline to comment”,
This is not the first time the company has ventured into controversy. Around the time it ventured into Ethiopia in 2013, there was a complaint lodged by a Canadian aboriginal activist who complained the commercialization of a feathered headgear that is, according to him, something of a “sign of respect” for his community and not something to be exploited by the company.
Founded in 1947, the company has accelerated its operation in Ethiopia looking at sourcing up to 1 million garments a month. It is said to be attracted to the country for Ethiopia’s cheap labor and lax regulations that have propelled a number of companies to venture into the country from several South Asian nations.