Why The Weeknd should get smarter with his collaborations after racist H&M photo

Why The Weeknd should get smarter with his collaborations after racist H&M photo — and why you shouldn’t shop at H&M either

Yesterday, some of the big ‘news’ on Twitter involved Canadian singer, songwriter, producer The Weeknd after the 27-year-old sent out a tweet stating he would no longer be working with former collaborator Swedish clothing giant H&M.

The reason?

The Weeknd had seen a photograph of a black child in an H&M photo wearing a sweatshirt with the text “Coolest monkey in the jungle”.


On his tweet, The Weeknd said “woke up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo. i’m deeply offended and will not be working with anymore“.

My first thought on looking at the photo was “What on earth would possess anyone at H&M to think a photo like that was a good idea?”.

My second thought?

Why would The Weeknd be working with H&M anyway?

After all, H&M has so many negatives against their name when it comes to buying clothes, few people I know would even shop there let alone go into a partnership with them.


What’s wrong with H&M?

Now, if you are one of those people not familiar with H&M’s terrible business practices, and just care that they sell cheap clothes, you might want to think about your shopping habits again. Especially if you care about human rights and the environment.

Because many of H&M’s business practices do nothing but add a hugely negative impact to both human rights and the environment, as well as to basic human decency.

Haven’t heard about the H&M controversies before?

If so, please, please, please educate yourself about the companies you buy from before you next walk into a store. Many of them, especially in the clothing industry, are massive contributors to global warming, environmental damage, slave labor and illegal child labor, just to name a few issues.

Do you really want your hard-earned cash going to support that?

As for H&M, they are not a particularly ethical company. In fact, yesterday’s The Weeknd problem with H&M is just one of the controversies H&M has been embroiled in over the last few years.

  1. In South Africa, a country that is predominantly black, H&M used predominantly white models for all their campaigns. You have to wonder what kind of brain-dead company official would approve that, and why would they think it would help them sell clothes?
  2. In New York City back in 2010, there was a report doing the rounds that, rather than donate unsold clothing to a charity, H&M was directing their employees to cut them up and throw them away. Apparently, to H&M it was more important to ‘prevent resale’ than to damage the environment and clog up America’s landfills with perfectly usable clothing people who could not afford new clothes would love to own.
  3. There have been instances of H&M ‘designers’ stealing an artist’s designs and then not compensating the artist for them.
  4. H&M routinely has their clothing manufactured in developing countries where the factories they use pay their employees slave labor wages, and have them working in unsafe buildings. (Watch the documentary ‘The True Cost‘ if you don’t know how damaging this is to the millions of poor people in developing countries forced to work in clothing factories like this).
  5. After the collapse of the low-cost clothing factory Rana Plaza in India, a collapse in which 1,129 workers died, H&M was one of the first companies to agree to make safety improvements in the factories it used. Fast-forward three years, and most of the factories H&M uses were just as unsafe as they always were.
  6. H&M also promised all the workers in their factories world-wide would be paid ‘a living wage’ by 2018. Well, 2018 is here and has H&M followed through on its promises?
  7. The fast fashion industry (cheap clothes for low cost) is the number three cause of environmental damage and global warming. That is due to things like where and how their clothing is manufactured, and how many ‘micro-collections’ they produce a year. As the world’s number two largest ‘fast fashion’ retailer, H&M is a huge part of that.

Want to know more about the abysmal business practices of H&M? This excellent article from the New Zealand site RNZ explains a lot of them.

As you will see from reading the article, there are a lot of ‘promises’ from H&M, but they rarely seem to follow through on most of them and always have a litany of excuses as to why.

Back to The Weeknd’s collaboration with H&M

Taking the above into consideration, when I saw The Weeknd’s tweet about H&M yesterday, I honestly couldn’t believe he was collaborating with H&M in the first place.

After all, a five-minute search about typical H&M business practices would show you this is not a company you would want to ally yourself with or promote.

Not if you care about morals, ethics, human rights, racism and the environment.

Then I looked into The Weeknd’s other collaborations and saw he is a Global Brand Ambassador for Puma, and they are one of the good ones — a company that does seem to care about its impact around the world, and about the people that work for it.

So, if The Weeknd collaborated with Puma, what the hell was he doing with H&M? Especially because he seems like a guy good as he also donates sizable chunks of money to ethical non-profits, including Black Lives Matter. So his morals are in the right place.

All I can say is hopefully this racist incident with the H&M photo will teach The Weeknd a valuable lesson, and maybe next time he will research the company he decides to work with before he signs on the dotted line?

More about why you shouldn’t shop at H&M

If you are interested in more on why you shouldn’t shop at H&M (and there are so many reasons) and why The Weeknd should not have been collaborating with H&M either, watch this well-researched video by Kristen Leo, one of my favorite ethical fashion supporters.

She gives you all the nasty information about H&M in a sarcastic, funny and silly way, but she is completely on the ball with why she does not shop at H&M, and why you should not either.




Michelle Topham


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