Zara launched a controversial advertising campaign that some suggested mocked the war in Gaza.
The fashion giant said it “regrets” a misunderstanding over photographs from its latest atelier “The Jacket” campaign, after they were compared to emerging images of war-torn Gaza.
The bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas, which began on October 7, has killed nearly 18,000 men, women and children in the besieged area.
In some photos from the campaign, American supermodel Kristen McMenamy was seen holding a mannequin covered with a white cloth. In others, she was surrounded by statues with missing limbs and broken plasterboard, or posed inside a coffin-like wooden box.
In a statement shared on Instagram on Tuesday (December 12), Zara clarified that the shoot was conceptualized and photographed before the start of the war and that the set was meant to resemble a sculptor's studio.
The Inditex-owned company added that its “sole purpose” was to present “handcrafted clothing in an artistic context”, but that the images were removed after “some customers were offended” by them.
“The campaign, conceived in July and photographed in September, presents a series of images of unfinished sculptures in a sculptor's studio and was created with the sole purpose of presenting handmade garments in an artistic context”, reads the message shared on Zara social networks. accounts read.
“Unfortunately, some customers felt offended by these images, now removed, and saw them as something far from what was intended when they were created.
“Zara regrets this misunderstanding and we reaffirm our deep respect for everyone.”
The hashtag #BoycottZara began trending on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, on Monday (December 11) as the “inhumane” and “tone deaf” campaign drew harsh criticism online.
Journalist Ahmed Shihab-Eldin commented: “And the award for the most deaf brand of the year goes to Zara.”
The UK's Advertising Standards Authority said it had received more than 110 complaints that the campaign was offensive as it referenced the Israel-Hamas war.
It was also reported that Zara stores in Montreal, Canada were painted with pro-Palestine slogans after the controversial campaign was launched.
Hamas launched an attack on Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people.
Israel launched retaliatory strikes, which the Health Ministry in Hamas-controlled territory says killed more than 17,700 Palestinians in Gaza, about two-thirds of them women and children.
Additional wire reports.