Eton of Sweden evoked calls of “racial insensitivity” for a recent window display at its boutique storefront in Toronto’s Yorkville region.
It seems the shirt maker’s whimsical swing over a field of cotton looked more like two nooses dangling above a man’s shirt surrounded by cotton plants.
The brand ripped down the facade Friday, shortly after Rhona Bennett – a member of the R&B group En Vogue – posted a photo of the display to social media with the caption
“What!?...Do you see?? Eton boutique in Toronto on Yorkville avenue. Uh...what are they advertising?”
Eton quickly issued an apology but the oversight could have a lingering effect.
“We sincerely hope that the persons who were offended by this incident will accept our heartfelt apology and understand that there was no malicious intent implied by the display,” Chris Donohue, Eton’s director of sales for North America told Yahoo Canada Finance in an emailed response.
“Eton does not and will not tolerate any of its employees partaking in actions that discriminate in any way against any people based on ethnicity, religion, gender or other – we hope that our company history of 86 years in business supporting peoples of various diversities will be appreciated and that this unfortunate incident will not change that positive opinion shared by our customers world wide.”
In the future, says Donohue, the company headquarters will approve all window displays.
But Eton isn’t the first brand to face flack for cultural oversight and insensitivity in the shirt world.
Urban Outfitters drew criticism earlier this year for a novelty shirt – you know the type of t-shirt both your dad’s drinking bud and the smoker kid from public school are prone to wearing – depicting an inebriated Jesus with a beer mug.
Notoriously classy Hudson’s Bay Co. also faced a social media backlash for selling a less-than-chic t-shirt featuring a nutritional label with the infamous quote from British supermodel Kate Moss: "Nothing Tastes As Good As Skinny Feels" inscribed on it.
Eton will likely bounce back from the incident but don’t be surprised if it gets mentioned in the next roundup of sloppy marketing decisions.