Swedish retailer H&M has become the latest victim of its own fashion.
The clothing store has pulled an item that had been dubbed the “hipster headdress” off of Canadian shelves after Kim Wheeler, Ojibwe-Mohawk, called out the company in an e-mail after seeing the feathered hair bands in a Vancouver store, CTV News reported on Friday August 9.
“They are a sign of honor and respect and leadership, they’re not a cute accessory to be worn in a nightclub while people are dancing to music,” Wheeler told CTV News, noting that headdresses are sacred items worn by chiefs and that donning them as trifles is anything but a sign of respect. “I appreciate where people are coming from and that they want to say ‘we’re respecting you,’ but it really isn’t. There are other ways that we can respect our culture instead of wearing colorful faux headdresses.”
A spokesperson for H&M in Canada told the Canadian Press that the headbands, which sport bright pink and purple flowers, formed part of the “summer music festival collection” titled “H&M Loves Music,” along with flower-powered ‘Sixties-style wreaths and other items.
“Of course we never want to offend anybody or come off as insensitive,” said the spokeswoman, Emily Scarlett. “We’re always about being there for our customers.”
H&M’s 62 Canada stores had been told to remove the headbands, Scarlett told the Canadian Press. H&M has now joined Urban Outfitters, Victoria’s Secret and a host of other retailers in being educated about the significance of headdresses and other ceremonial garb.
"My first instinct was to buy all of them and throw them in the garbage. It's not honoring us. It's not flattering us. It's making a mockery of our culture. We just don't think it's cool,” said the 44-year-old Wheeler, who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. "People in my community have kind of been fighting that whole 'hipster headdressing' for awhile now."