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Talking Business: Asos shouldn't have apologised for 'slave' T-shirt

This is a message to retailers: get a backbone. Especially when dealing with people who take it upon themselves to decide what products are morally right or wrong for sale, writes Leon Bailey-Green, founder of men’s industry network Dandy Clash.

Leon Bailey-Green

Leon Bailey-Green

Leon Bailey-Green

Asos has removed a T-shirt with the word “slave” printed on it from its Marketplace. The product in question was worn by a black model.

After a series of angry tweets the retailer (and the independent seller) removed the product and apologised for ”any offence caused”. Neither needed to happen. No removal. No apology.

I can understand them wanting to stop the social media lynch mob in their tracks, but a 140-character explanation of the (actual) meaning of the product would have been suffice to clear up any misunderstanding.

Surely it’s obvious that the slave reference is a play on being a “slave to fashion”? How did these people come to link it to African slave trade? It sounds like they haven’t got over something which didn’t even happen to them.

Some people are capable of seeing racism in an empty room, and it makes a mockery out of the real thing getting worked up over an innocent T-shirt. The apologise-and-remove strategy may seem like the best, and easiest, policy, but I’d rather see retailers stand up for themselves.

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