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Zara faces boycott calls over campaign ‘mocking’ Gaza victims

The campaign features American model Kristen McMenamy carrying a mannequin draped in white cloth

Maanya Sachdeva
Tuesday 12 December 2023 05:32 GMT
Related video: Calls to boycott Zara over far-right Israeli links

Fast fashion giant Zara is facing boycott calls after its latest campaign featured mannequins with missing limbs surrounded by rubble, which has been compared to the horrifying images emerging from war-torn Gaza.

The hashtag #BoycottZara began trending on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday 11 December, after social media users called the brand out over its latest fashion campaign , “The Jacket”, featuring supermodel Kristen McMenamy.

Some X users noted the similarities between the devastating images coming out of Gaza, where nearly 18,000 people have been killed amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

In one photograph, McMenamy can be seen carrying a mannequin draped in white cloth. In other pictures, the American model was photographed posing amid rubble, inside wooden boxes, surrounded by statues – some of which are missing limbs.

The “tone-deaf” photo shoots has been criticised for its comparisons with victims from the war, who are typically wrapped in a plain white cloth, as is Islamic tradition.

Inditex, the parent company of Zara, has not commented on the criticism, whileThe Independent did not receive a response to a request for comment.

A source close to Zara told iNews that the campaign was planned in advance: “Perhaps this was very bad timing.”

Side-by-side comparison shots were widely shared on the micro-blogging platform, with several people condemning the retailer for its insensitive campaign as the war in Gaza enters its third month.

“Using death and destruction as a backdrop for fashion is beyond sinister, it’s complicity and should outrage us as consumers,” Palestinian artist Hazem Harb commented on Instagram.

Indonesian actor and fashion designer Zaskia Sungkar, who has over 31 million Instagram followers, wrote: “Goodbye Zara”.

Journalist Ahmed Shihab-Eldin commented: “And the award for most tone deaf brand of the year goes to Zara.”

Another tweet read: “Zara brand has mocked the plight of the oppressed Palestinians and their martyrs in their advertising campaign. Let us all boycott this hypocritical and insensitive Zara brand.”

The calls to boycott Zara over its “tone-deaf” fashion campaign reportedly began on Sunday (9 December) after the images were posted online.

According to an iNews report, activists spray-painted pro-Palestine slogans on some Zara stores in Montreal, Canada.

A source close to Zara told the newspaper the campaign was planned in advance: “Perhaps this was very bad timing.”

The clothing brand describes its contentious new campaign as a “limited edition collection from the house celebrating our commitment to craftsmanship and passion for artistic expression”.

Amid the latest controversy, some social media users resurfaced comments made by Zara executive Vanessa Perilman sent to Palestinian model Qaher Harhash on Instagram two years ago.

Harhash, a pro-Palestine advocate, shared screenshots of messages exchanged between him and Perilman in the wake of the bloody, 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in 2021.

Perilman and Zara were called out online when she sent Harhash the following message: “Maybe if your people were educated then they wouldn’t blow up the hospitals and schools that Israel helped to pay for in Gaza.

“Israelis don’t teach children to hate nor throw stones at soldiers as your people do.”

At the time, Inditex, the company that controls Zara, distanced itself from Perilman’s remarks, adding that it “does not accept any lack of respect to any culture, religion, country, race or belief”.

"Zara is a diverse company and we shall never tolerate discrimination of any kind," the $120bn company added. "We condemn these comments that do not reflect our core values of respect for one another, and we regret the offense that they have caused."

The Independent has contacted representatives for Zara for comment.

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