Slogan apparel can sometimes spread a positive message—but more often than not, the context in which it’s released is just as important as the slogan itself.
That became apparent when fashion brand LPA launched a collection of sweatshirts on online retailer Revolve, which were meant to call out cyberbullying. The styles featured real negative comments left on the Instagram posts of various well-known figures, many of which referenced body shaming. On their own, pictured on straight-sized e-commerce models, though, that message didn’t get across.
One of the sweatshirts featured a comment attributed to curve model Paloma Elsesser’s profile, which read: “Being fat is not beautiful [sic] it’s an excuse.” However, it was shown on a straight-sized model and only offered up to a size XL. The images were circulated among body-positive activists—including Felicity Hayward, Tess Holliday, and Jameela Jamil—and were criticized for instead spreading a message of fat-shaming.
In a statement provided to Glamour, a spokesperson from Revolve said: “This morning, images of a forthcoming LPA collection were prematurely released on Revolve.com. The capsule collection—originally conceived by LPA alongside Lena Dunham, Emily Ratajkowski, Cara Delevingne, Suki Waterhouse, and Paloma Elsesser—was set to debut tomorrow as a direct commentary on the modern day ‘normality’ of cyber-bullying and the shared desire to create a community for those most affected by the epidemic…. The prematurely released images featured on Revolve.com [were] not only included without context of the overall campaign, but regrettably featured one of the pieces on a model who’s size was not reflective of the piece’s commentary on body positivity. We at Revolve sincerely apologize to all those involved—particularly Lena, Emily, Cara, Suki and Paloma—our loyal customers, and the community as a whole for this error.”
Revolve has pulled the sweatshirts from the site, and promised to donate $20,000 to Girls Write Now, the charity LPA had planned to give proceeds from this collection to.
London-based artist Florence Given posted screenshots on Instagram of what appears to be a direct message conversation with LPA, in which the brand reportedly says the sweatshirt was intended to “shine a light on how horrible trolling is” by sharing rude comments left on famous Instagram accounts.
Raising awareness about cyber-bullying is a noble cause, but this collection—and its rollout—unfortunately detracted from the issue.
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