Forever 21 has issued an apology after taking the wrong approach to ugly Christmas sweater season. The company found itself under fire after advertising a Black Panther-themed holiday sweater, emblazoned with “Wakanda Forever,” with an uh…white model:
— LaBlaq, the final Fantastic. (@LoveAndShalom) December 18, 2018
Wakanda, the afro-futurist nation featured in this year’s hit film Black Panther, offered an unprecedented vision of black culture in mainstream media that clearly resonated with audiences—who bought enough tickets to make it the ninth-highest grossing film of all time. At a period when diversity and representation are at the forefront of cultural discourse, it’s clearly a bit of a tone-deaf move on Forever 21’s behalf to make a white dude the avatar of one of the largest reflections of black voices in the mainstream. Luckily, people agreed:
— Frederick Joseph (@FredTJoseph) December 18, 2018
Wow Forever 21 is tone deaf af. Colonizers aren't praised in Wakanda. Try again.
— Iyesha Riley (@Iyeshalovette) December 18, 2018
In response to the online backlash, Forever 21 not only removed the tweet advertising the item, but the entire listing of the sweater on their website. In addition to removal of the item and its advertisements, the company issued an apology stating, “Forever 21 takes feedback on our products and marketing extremely seriously. We celebrate all superheroes with many different models of various ethnicities and apologize if the photo in question was offensive in any way.”
No news yet as to whether or not the sweater will return to the site’s store—this time hopefully with a culturally-appropriate model.