Why this iconic fashion brand’s Instagram caption is bumming us out
United Colors of Benetton, a brand beloved as much for its brightly colored basics as its inclusive ad campaigns, is under fire after posting what many are saying is a sexist Instagram caption. In a post advertising its latest collection of kids’ clothes featuring three boys, Benetton wrote, “Sorry ladies. Girls not allowed!”
The Instagram caption has us asking: Was that really necessary?
With unisex clothing — not to mention a serious spirit of feminism and inclusivity — taking the fashion world by storm over the last couple of years, this “no girls allowed” sentiment seems particularly tone-deaf.
And fans of the brand weren’t afraid to point that out.
One commenter, Caroline Labreque, wrote, “My daughter would love the red top and blue shorts, but since girls are not allowed… Gee, Benetton missed the opportunity to double their sales on those clothes.”
Another commenter, Louise Zass-Bangham, made an important point about the sexualization of girls. “I’d love a tank vest that actually covers my daughter’s chest, and shorts that cover her bottom,” she wrote. “Stop sexualizing little girls by implying this isn’t suitable for them.”
Benetton, for their part, did issue an apology in the comments section of the post:
"We're very sorry that our message struck the wrong chord with some of you. We only meant to be playful in this post, and we apologize if we have unintentionally offended anyone. We certainly did not intend to be sexist. In fact, we take pride in the fact that United Colors of Benetton has always promoted gender equality, which we firmly believe is necessary for building a better world. This is precisely why we launched — in 2015 — the Women Empowerment Program, a long-term sustainability program aimed at supporting and empowering women worldwide."
And while some commenters found the apology inadequate, others pointed out that the caption was probably meant to be playful and reminiscent of the “no girls allowed” signs posted on treehouses of yore, and telling Benetton not to worry about its detractors.
Playful or not, we don’t think old-school gender segregation is very funny, and we know Benetton can do better — we’ve seen it!
Try again, please and thanks.