High-end brands such as Versace, Saint Laurent and Gucci have posted messages promising solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement after a number of luxury boutiques have been looting in recent days in key locations such as California’s Rodeo Drive and New York’s SoHo.
Gucci reposted a poem by writer Cleo Wade on Twitter and Instagram about how to end racism and bigotry, while Prada SpA uploaded a statement that was very angry and saddened by the injustice faced by the black community. French cosmetics giant L’Oreal SA posted “Speaking commensurate” on its social media accounts. The Swedish clothing chain Hennes & Mauritz AB remains simple with “Let’s change.”
The luxury goods industry is now facing public relations challenges in the US as it is experiencing shop closures and weak global demand caused by a pandemic. By voicing solidarity with the black community, the brand is trying to gain credibility, even though there is a risk of appearing rude after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Some of them are still trying to undergo the racial controversy that they sparked in the past.
“It’s very important for these brands to be sensitive to cultural differences and respect each and every person,” Luca Solca, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, wrote in an email. “Failure to do so, even unintentionally and accidentally, exposes the brand to severe consequences.”
H&M has closed 95 of about 600 stores in the US because of the riots. That brings the total number of store closures to more than 1,300. The Covid-19 outbreak has caused nearly one third of the H&M network to be shut down. The company also said it contributed half a million dollars to organizations such as the Color of Change and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Last year, Gucci Dry SA resigned and apologized for a sweater that resembled a black face, and in 2018, Prada removed the statues from the display case after they were called because of similarities to racist caricatures.
Some quickly describe the industry’s latest social media posts as hypocritical, including Munroe Bergdorf’s model from England. He was dropped by L’Oreal in 2017 after making comments against racism and white supremacy after protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. Bergdorf said the brand took advantage of public relations opportunities.
“Where is my support when I speak?” he tweeted in a charge-laden response to L’Oreal.
L’Oreal cannot be immediately contacted for comment.
H&M had to close a number of shops in South Africa in 2018 amid protests against an advertisement that showed a black boy modeling a hoodie with the text “coolest monkey in the forest.”
“We also acknowledge our past mistakes and they have made us very aware of how much we still need to learn,” H&M Chief Executive Officer Helena Helmersson said in a statement released Monday in response to the latest unrest. “As a company, we are growing, but we can and must do better.”
(This story has been published from a wire agent feed without modification to the text. Only the headlines have been changed.)