Chadwick Boseman in 'Black Panther'
Chadwick Boseman in 'Black Panther'

Forever 21 sparks outrage by modelling ‘Black Panther’ Wakanda top on white man

‘Not even Wakanda can escape gentrification’

Sabrina Barr
Wednesday 19 December 2018 10:43

Forever 21 has received a barrage of criticism after photos of a white man modelling a Black Panther top appeared on its site.

Ever since its release in February 2018, the Marvel flick has been lauded as a groundbreaking pièce de résistance that celebrates black culture and the concept of Afrofuturism, not to mention becoming the highest grossing superhero film of all time.

Despite the conversations that Black Panther has sparked about the importance of representation in Hollywood, American apparel retailer Forever 21 has provoked criticism after it released an item of knitwear inspired by the film being modelled by a white man.

Designed with a depiction of the Black Panther superhero on its front, the top also has the slogan "Wakanda Forever" emblazoned across it, in reference to the fictional Sub-Saharan African nation.

The choice to have a white man model the garment has angered scores of people online.

"Not even Wakanda can escape gentrification," one person wrote.

"Oh lawwdd, what the hell is this nonsense!?!" someone else commented.

Another person pointed out the fact that Forever 21 features black models on its site, and therefore could have easily used one of them to model the top instead.

Following the backlash that Forever 21 has received, the photo of the white man modelling the top has been removed from the site.

In response to the controversy, the retailer issued an apology stating that it never intended to cause offence and has deleted a tweet promoting the top.

"Forever 21 takes feedback on our products and marketing extremely seriously," the company said in a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter.

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"We celebrate all superheroes with many different models of various ethnicities and apologise if the photo in question was offensive in anyway."

In January 2018, Disney was criticised after a Black Panther pin was spotted at its Walt Disney World theme park featuring the character with a lighter skin tone than that of the comic book character or the film's lead actor Chadwick Boseman.

It was recently announced that Black Panther had been shortlisted for several Academy Awards, including for Makeup and Hairstyling, Original Score, Original Song and Visual Effects.

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