Zara, owned by Inditex, removed an advertising campaign from its website and app featuring mannequins with missing limbs and statues wrapped in white. The move followed calls for a boycott by pro-Palestine activists.
Inditex stated that the removal was part of its routine content refresh and did not address the boycott calls directly. The “Atelier” collection in question was conceptualized in July, and the photos were taken in September, before the Israel-Hamas conflict that began after Oct. 7.
Social Media Backlash:
Zara faced significant backlash on Instagram, with tens of thousands of comments, many featuring Palestinian flags. The hashtag “#BoycottZara” trended on messaging platform X.
Critics argued that some campaign images resembled scenes from Gaza, depicting mannequins wrapped in white and a bust on the floor, evoking images of corpses. Zara originally described the collection, launched on Dec. 7, as inspired by men’s tailoring from past centuries.
The incident underscores the heightened sensitivity that international brands navigate amid escalating conflict in Gaza, with calls for boycotts gaining traction. In October, the CEO of Web Summit resigned following comments related to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Disappearance of Campaign:
The controversial campaign, visible on Zara’s online store home page on Monday morning, was no longer accessible on the website or app by 1230 GMT. A link on the UK website redirected to a page showcasing last year’s collection.
The “Atelier” collection, comprising six jackets, is one of Zara’s most expensive, ranging from $229 for a grey wool blazer to $799 for a studded leather jacket.
This isn’t the first time a fashion label faced controversy due to an advertising campaign. Kering set up a position for brand safety after backlash against Balenciaga’s child-centric images. Dolce & Gabbana faced removal from Chinese ecommerce sites in 2018 due to a perceived racist campaign.
Zara previously faced criticism in 2022 when the head of its Israeli franchise hosted a campaign event for an ultranationalist politician, drawing ire from some Palestinians and Israelis.
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