Slave is a word that African Americans have fought so hard to escape but have never seemed to forget the history behind it. So why would a clothing company think it is appropriate to put this demeaning word on a t-shirt and photograph an African American model wearing it? Although the brand that created the design is Wasted Heroes, ASOS is catching the heat from the offensive statement.
Enraged customers took screen shots of the image and began questioning the company’s motives on social media and accused ASOS of racism. ASOS quickly removed the shirt from the website and tried to save face by explaining that it was on the ASOS Marketplace. They released a statement saying, “Marketplace is a collection of independent sellers who must agree to our terms and conditions when they join. Whenever we find product that violates our policies we remove it immediately. There is also a ‘report this item’ link under every product picture.”
One may conclude that employees at Wasted Heroes must not have read through the terms and conditions of the agreement thoroughly before listing the item for sale. The U.K. retailer based in Liverpool, Wasted Heroes, responded to the problem via Twitter. The tweet made it clear that the shirt was not meant to be offensive but represent the customers being slaves to a fashion label. The tweet concluded, “It really was extremely stupid of us.”
Despite the backlash that Wasted Heroes received from their insulting design, the t-shirt is still available for sale on their website. There are also several other versions of the word “slave” displayed with recognizable logos such as Nike, Burger King and Disney. Even though it may not be in the company’s best interest to continue to sell these t-shirts, their website does not have models wearing the apparel. Perhaps Wasted Heroes is assuming that the customers buying the “slave” t-shirts will purchase them for the intended message.