November 10, 2012

Victoria's Secret apologizes for headdress

After a couple days of controversy, Victoria's Secret apologized for its fashion faux pas:

Victoria’s Secret Apologizes for Fashion Show Gaffe

By Lisa ScherzerThe $12 million show, which had musical performances by Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Bruno Mars, showcased plenty of not-meant-to-be worn ensembles, including circus-themed outfits and a $2.5 million "fantasy bra." Last year the show averaged nearly 10.4 million viewers, up from 8.9 million in 2010, according to Horizon Media. (This year's show was taped on Nov. 7 and is set to air Dec. 4.)

Kloss, who walked the catwalk in a leopard bikini, turquoise beaded jewelry, high-heeled moccasins, and a floor-length feathered headdress (with the word "Thanksgiving" projected on a screen behind her), issued an apology via her Twitter account on Sunday: "I am deeply sorry if what I wore during the VS Show offended anyone. I support VS's decision to remove the outfit from the broadcast."

Victoria's Secret, owned by Limited Brands (LTD) also apologized on Twitter, and issued a statement: "We are sorry that the Native American headdress replica used in our recent fashion show has upset individuals. We sincerely apologize as we absolutely had no intention to offend anyone. Out of respect, we will not be including the outfit in any broadcast, marketing materials nor in any other way."

Whether the controversy will put any kind of dent in Victoria's Secret's sales is questionable. By apologizing and pulling the offending clip from the show, the company addressed the goof quickly, so the damage will likely be minimal, says Brad Adgate, director of research at Horizon Media. With a presence in nearly every shopping mall in the country, it's the biggest specialty retailer for intimate apparel. In 2011 Limited Brands sales sales increased $751 million to $10.364 billion, while Victoria's Secret Stores sales rose $601 million to $6.121 billion.
Victoria's Secret apologizes for use of headdress

'They are spitting on our culture,' Navajo Nation spokesman saysAbaki Beck was among a handful of native students who hosted a discussion last week at a private liberal arts college in St. Paul, Minn., on Native culture in fashion and sports. She said companies first must learn from the mistake of ignoring native history and then make an effort to engage with Indian Country.

She wanted more than a short apology from Victoria's Secret instead of what she said sounded like an automated response.

"But perhaps that is an unrealistic hope," said the 19-year-old member of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana. "It is all about business, after all."

Jennie Luna, who is Chicana and Caxcan, said society largely is ignorant toward indigenous spirituality and doesn't understand what should not be marketed commercially. She and others say more education about native cultures is needed.

"We are people; we're not a fashion statement," Luna said. "We are people who are facing serious issues, and for them to further perpetuate the type of stereotypes and disregard for a community's way of life is unacceptable."
Reactions to the apology

Many commenters on Facebook weren't satisfied with Victoria's Secret's apology:Saying sorry that people got upset is different than saying sorry for doing a stupid thing.

I am happy they at least responded. This doesn't happen enough.

It's not a great apology but I'm really glad to hear they're taking action and removing the outfit from their materials.

"We're sorry you're offended."

And they only offended certain individuals?? They offended entire groups of people! Women...Native Americans...chubby jk

The action is better than the apology.

Not good enough.

Close but no cigar!

Joseph, it is phrased utterly dismissive and not at all acknowledged that they did something wrong. This is standard procedure when dealing with people denying that they are the beneficiaries of privilege. This is a standard way to protect such privilege: deny that privilege exists, deny that OBJECTIVELY you did something wrong but insist that you don't want to be an asshole to the (implied: few) individuals who (because they are way too sensitive, again, implied) have taken offense: as woman working for equality I have been exposed to the BS my entire life too, even if it was not at a level which ever reached the dismissal of such systemic violence as Native women as a group face in this country.

If they aren't responding the way Paul Frank did, their response isn't good enough for me....

This only means they are sorry for our offended interpretation. It shifts the responsibility from them to us. To me this is just a hand washing. The damage has been done. It has been seen, and it's out there. It shouldn't have happened in the first place.

The tone of the "apology" was insincere and minimizing. We're not upset, we're offended and outraged. We're not "individuals" we are a group of people who are offended by an insult aimed at a very large and oppressed group of people by a privileged, self-absorbed corporation and its minions. This apology is not an apology but an attempt to cover one's ass.
Comment:  On the bright side, these controversies are getting a lot of (bad) publicity in the MSM. Once something goes viral on FB and Twitter, the rest of the world is picking it up. So keep up the good work, online activists!

It's amazing if you think about it. We've gone from major businesses (Cleveland Indians, Washington Redskins) ignoring criticism for 40 years to backing down and apologizing in matter of days, even hours. That's progress.

For more on the subject, see Crystle Lightning in a Headdress and Boutique Lookbook's Stereotypical Fashions.

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