Racial Slurs, Fashion’s New Marketing Strategy?

It started with the advertisement of H&M’s racist sweatshirt, but the company said it was a “misunderstanding”, shortly after Forbes reported on a racist slur used by Wycon for their new black nail polish, but the company said it was a “misunderstanding”, and now Groupon is called out by Cosmopolitan for a racist advertisement on their online market, but the company said it is a “misunderstanding”.

Interestingly, each “misunderstanding” has garnered a lot of press for each of these brands and as you know brand exposure is marketing 101. It is almost like a business strategy, think about it, strangely enough the fashion and beauty industry is the only industry falling victim to these “misunderstandings”. And, the fashion industry is very well known for introducing and glamorizing controversial topics. So I have to ask, “is the fashion industry trying to make racial slurs a trend?

In the most recent case, Groupon released a product advertisement for suede boots with the color name N***** brown. The offensive marketing was picked up by Black Twitter on Thursday who called for a boycott of Groupon’s online marketplace. The news went viral and it landed a feature article in Cosmopolitan yesterday. According to the story, when Groupon learned of the shoe brand’s offensive style name and its impact in the black community on social media Groupon released a statement of apology and removed the products. Bill Roberts, the vice president of Global Communications for the company, said the language slipped their detection controls, stating it is “completely unacceptable and violates our policies”.

But Cosmopolitan not only posted this article on its website, the mega-magazine also posted the story on their social media platforms- to their millions of followers. The news also made The Daily Beast, TMZ, BET and Time.

For low quality, fast fashion brands without brand recognition this is a quick way to sell an item and get brand exposure, which brings me back to my point maybe these incidents are more than a “misunderstanding”, maybe it’s fashion’s new marketing strategy.

So is this all just the beginning? Should we expect to see anti-Semitic and homophobic slurs integrated into fashion strategies as well? And how high up in the fashion industry does this go?

There are so many reasons why these are scary thoughts.

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Nichelle Cole is the founder & editor-in-chief of The Fashion Plate magazine. A respected writer, stylist and influencer, she has been published in fashion magazines around the world.

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