The story behind a series of racially charged Instagram comments by the account of an Ed Hardy style clothing company has become increasingly bizarre; with a mysterious spokesperson emerging, unusual punctuation and grammar, a partially broken website and deleted social media posts.
Yesterday Saint Morris Apparel came under fire after racial remarks were made by their official Instagram page on a post by an Indigenous man about Australia Day.
NITV News had reached out to the company for comment via their social media channels as well as their sales inquiry email address.
Overnight a person claiming to represent the company sent a response from a Gmail account belonging to a "Ben Jamima" who would not confirm if this was their real name or reveal their position with the company, but claimed the story was "fake news" and "slander" and demanded it be deleted.
Ben Jamima claimed many people had access to the brand's social media accounts and they did not know who was behind the racially charged posts, but denied they represented the view of the brand.
“Our brand is shared by many infividuals [sic] and does no way shape or form represent our views,” the email stated.
Among the rambling and at times incoherent Instagram comments made by the brand's account were: "And the way we see it here is mojorirty [sic] of aboriginal community are alcoholics and drug abusers it’s plain and simple," and about Aboriginal people needing to stop with the “bullshit” excuses.
The self-proclaimed “premium lifestyle apparel” called the Instagram comments “tasteless and hurtful”.
After the company initially claimed they had “no idea” who wrote the comments, they later said in a further email they believed it was a former employee who had access to their official Instagram page. They added that since the news of the comments had been reported they had received abusive messages and were now being harassed.
“We do not endorse any form of racism or bigotry… Please stop the abusive shared content,” Saint Morris Apparel’s claimed spokesperson said.
The fashion brand also claims they have been in the process of closing down for a while and has been “inactive for months”, however parts of its website are still active.
ASIC searches showed no record of a Saint Morris Apparel ever being registered, however it was unclear if the company had been listed under a different name.
However their Facebook page, which has over 9000 likes, had posts as recently as January 25; following NITV News' story yesterday the page deleted almost a year's worth of posts, with the most recent post now from April 2017. Their instagram account was active until yesterday until it was also deleted shortly after the story broke.
When pressed to prove their identity and an explanation about the sudden changes in their online social media accounts Ben Jamima declined and continued to insist the comments were not those of the company and for all reporting of the incident to be deleted.
“We would like to make it unequivocally clear that those comments DO NOT represent the views of this brand as a whole,” the claimed spokesperson said.
“I can only apolagise [sic] on behalf of those negative comments made and I myself am hugely disappointed and upset about this whole thing.”