TORONTO (AP) — H&M said Friday that the fashion chain has pulled faux feather headdresses from its stores across Canada after receiving complaints the accessories are offensive to aboriginals.
H&M spokeswoman Emily Scarlett said the hair pieces — patterned head bands with bright pink-and-purple flowers — were part of the company’s summer music festival collection called “H&M Loves Music.”
“Music festivals these days are really about experimenting with fashion and dressing your personality. And they’re very heavily based on accessories, really accessorizing your look.”
The Toronto-based spokeswoman said the Swedish-based fashion chain received three complaints and quickly made the decision to remove the headdresses from the market.
“Of course we never want to offend anybody or come off as insensitive,” Scarlett said. “We’re always about being there for our customers.”
The “music festival” explanation didn’t sit well with Kim Wheeler, an Ojibwa-Mohawk from Winnipeg, Manitoba, who said the $15 accessories make a mockery of her culture.
“My first instinct was to buy all of them and throw them in the garbage,” Wheeler said.
The 44-year-old media relations worker and former Canadian Press employee said she first saw the fashion accessories while shopping with her daughter last week at the store in Vancouver, British Columbia. She said she quickly realized she wasn’t prepared to spend that much money to make a point that might not be heard.
Instead, she fired off an email to the company.
“Headdresses are worn by chiefs in some of our communities … It is a symbol of respect and honor and should not be for sale as some sort of cute accessory… People in my community have kind of been fighting that whole ‘hipster headdressing’ for a while now.”
Scarlett said an order to remove the items went out earlier this week to its 61 Canadian locations.