No matter how many times clothing companies face criticism for cultural appropriation and racist messaging, it seems like they continue to make the same tone-deaf mistakes again and again. Brands from Dolce & Gabbana to Dior are routinely slammed for offensive ads, and Forever 21 is the latest clothing company to come under fire for insensitivity after it tweeted a picture of a white model wearing Black Panther gear (yes, really). Yesterday, December 18th, the clothing retailer tweeted an image of a pale, blonde model wearing a sweater that bore the phrase “Wakanda Forever” alongside an image of the superhero’s mask.
It didn’t take long for Twitter to notice that the image was problematic.
Several users cracked jokes about gentrification and pointed out that the guy in the sweater was more likely to be a colonizer.
Others rushed to Forever 21’s defense, arguing that everyone should be able to wear superhero movie merch.
HuffPost notes that the company later removed pictures featuring the model from its website and replaced them with photos of the sweater on its own. The brand also apologized.
This isn’t the first time the fashion company has caused offense (and eye rolls). In 2013, the clothing store was marketing “City of Compton” shirts with white models. Let’s hope Forever 21 puts more thought into the messaging behind the images on their site next time around.