Europe

Controversial H&M hoodie ad not racist, parents say

The mother of the boy who modelled the controversial H&M 'monkey' hoodie tells UK broadcaster ITV that she didn't look at it as racist.

The parents of the young boy in the middle of the H&M 'monkey' storm that was deemed 'insensitive' have spoken out over the ongoing controversy.

The young boy was pictured in a hoodie for sale on the H&M website with the words "coolest monkey in the jungle" across the front.

H&M apologised for using the image and removed it from its website after the Swedish brand was accused of racism.

A black boy models a hoodie with the slogan 'Coolest Monkey in the Jungle'.
A black boy models a hoodie with the slogan 'coolest monkey in the jungle' on the H&M website.
H&M

More than a week after the controversy, mother Terry and father Frank Mango spoke to ITV from Stockholm, Sweden, and said they were not even aware of the image until it sparked a social media storm.

Mrs Mango said even if she had seen the hoodie, it wouldn't have immediately rung alarm bells.

"Not for me," she said. "I wouldn't see such a connection to anything other than my son modelling a shirt.

"Until the controversy now, with the whole furore that is going on, then you kind of look back and wonder if you had noticed it, what would be our, or my, initial response to it.

Terry and Frank Mango speak out over H&M 'monkey' controversy.
Terry and Frank Mango speak out over H&M 'monkey' controversy.
ITV

"It is not an overreaction when it comes to racism, everybody should act differently based on their own opinions on what racism is."

However, Mrs Mango said when it came to her son and the hoodie, she did not look at it as racist.

"To put the T-shirt and the word 'monkey' with racism, maybe that is not my way of looking at it. I'm just looking at Liam, a black, young boy, modelling a T-shirt that has the word 'monkey' on it. I think everyone should respect different opinions based on racism," she added.

The word monkey has long been used by some as a racial slur. The image offended many people around the world who made their feelings known on social media.

Swedish H&M said in an emailed statement to Reuters they were sorry the picture was taken.

“We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken and we also regret the actual print,” it read.

Celebrities including Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James and musician The Weekend joined the social media backlash against the image.

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