H&M is known for selling affordable and chic clothes around the globe, but with so many stores in different locales, you’d think the company would know how to provide great customer service. However, after the retailer was called out on Twitter for not having images of Black models hanging in its stores in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa, the company showed how not to handle criticism.

When Tlalane Letlhaku instructed H&M South Africa to “please work on” incorporating images of Black models in its stores, the brand responded by saying it strives to “convey a positive image” in its stores. 


Perplexed by the company’s responses, other Twitter users asked H&M South Africa to explain.

After listing off the models of color they’ve used in the past to attempt to counter the narrative that they didn’t feel Black models conveyed a “positive image,” H&M South Africa apologized for it clumsy, and some say offensive, response.

The PR dustup happened just days before H&M opens another store in the Sandton section of Johannesburg. While it’s unclear if that store will have adverts with Black models, it’s clear H&M needs to do a better job of making sure their stores reflect the local community.

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  • Mary Burrell

    And the struggle continues

  • [email protected]

    First, South Africa has a population that has a majority of people who are black people. So, it will be commonsense for the H&M locations in Cape Town and Johannesburg to have black models. When that company was called out, it issued the typical tired response and then later gave a token “apology.” One thing about our generation is that social media will call out any company and any person who explicitly disregards the humanity of black people. As the elders and as the people here has mentioned, we should respond to stuff like this with our pocketbooks and with our voices. We will not fund any entity or corporation who disrespect us as black people. South Africa has a long history of heroic people who stood up for freedom like Steve Biko, Lillian Masediba Ngoyi, Nelson Mandela, Miriam Makeba, Albert John Lutuli , Chris Hani, Dora Tamana, and other human beings.

  • Dee

    The irony of it all happening in the midst of the Balmain x HM global frenzy, a line designed by A BLACK MAN. SMH!

    • Dr.Rue

      Pierre Balmain was Black??

    • Dee

      Olivier Rousteing, Creative Director