Zara, the Spanish retail giant, is facing widespread criticism in the wake of its latest advertising campaign, titled “The Jacket.”
The campaign, intended to showcase the design versatility of a jacket, has ignited a storm of controversy for its perceived insensitivity and inappropriate use of imagery reminiscent of the ongoing genocide in Gaza.
The promotional visuals showcase model Kristen McMenamy posing alongside mannequins wrapped in white cloth and plastic, placed against a backdrop of rubble and a cardboard cutout, which some assert bears a resemblance to the map of Palestine.
This stark portrayal has drawn parallels to the destruction and suffering witnessed in Gaza, prompting sharp condemnation from various quarters.
The images, evoking the scenes of death and mourning familiar to those following the tragic events in Gaza, have stirred significant public backlash.
Of particular concern is the campaign’s apparent trivialization of Palestinian death and suffering, with representations of bodies wrapped in white resembling traditional Muslim burial shrouds.
The controversy has sparked a growing chorus of voices calling for a boycott of Zara, with many expressing the view that the fashion brand has crossed a line into blatant disrespect and insensitivity.
Despite the outcry, Zara has not issued a response or statement addressing the controversy.
However, some of the contentious pictures have been removed from the company’s website and social media platforms.
Zara faces social media uproar and calls for boycott amid controversial campaign
Social media platforms were ablaze with the hashtags #BoycottZara as public discontent surged over the fashion brand’s latest campaign.
These hashtags not only served as a call for boycotting Zara but also represented a broader dissatisfaction with multinational corporations aligning themselves with perceived oppressors.
The images featured in the campaign triggered a swift and intense reaction on social media.
Viewers found the portrayals unsettling, particularly those depicting bodies wrapped in white bags resembling Islamic burial attire.
Palestinian artist Hazem Harb expressed his dismay on Instagram, condemning the use of death and destruction as a backdrop for fashion.
He urged consumers to boycott Zara, emphasizing the complicity of such marketing in perpetuating insensitivity.
On X, users echoed their discontent with Zara’s campaign.
One user lamented the state of humanity, stating, “how disgusting the world we live in, how disgusting humans are when there is no humanity #BoycottZara.”
Others accused Zara of deleting posts only after facing severe backlash, asserting that the act of removal did not erase the harm caused.
Other users on X asserted, “Zara knows what it’s doing. Don’t, for a second, believe that this campaign just emerged organically and innocently. Why haven’t they clarified the misunderstanding, issued a statement, or apologized for the symbolism?”
The Quds News Network shared a video featuring a Palestinian activist who denounced Zara’s collection as the most disgusting ever seen.
The activist highlighted the campaign’s insensitivity, accusing Zara of making fun of the suffering of Palestinians and urging a boycott to emphasize that their blood is not cheap.
Activists on social media are calling for a boycott of Zara after the brand posted a new collection on Instagram featuring a setup with rubble and bodies.
Activists worldwide consider this a mockery of the thousands of Palestinians killed by the Israeli aggression on # Gaza. pic.twitter.com/hag1AUVEZd
— Quds News Network (@QudsNen) December 10, 2023
Repeat controversy and past scandal
Notably, in 2021, the fashion giant faced a similar wave of backlash following anti-Palestinian comments made by its head designer, Vanessa Perilman, on social media.
Perilman’s inflammatory remarks were directed at Palestinian model Qaher Harhash on Instagram.
She asserted, “Maybe if your people were educated, then they wouldn’t blow up the hospitals and schools that Israel helped to pay for in Gaza.”
The incident triggered widespread condemnation, sparking outrage among consumers and activists alike.
The aftermath of this controversy had tangible consequences for Zara.
The company’s branches in occupied territories reportedly suffered substantial financial losses as a result of the ensuing boycott.
Estimates suggest that the economic impact amounted to tens of millions of shekels (over US$300,000) within a relatively short period.
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