H&M Didn't Learn the Headdress Lesson from Victoria's Secret

How many more retailers will make this mistake? H&M Canadian customers were offended by hair accessories that imitated Native American headdresses with fake feathers.

H&M Headdress

Kim Wheeler, an Ojibwa-Mohawk woman, complained to H&M after seeing the headdress in a Vancouver, B.C., store. She told CTV,

"They're worn by chiefs. They're a sign of honour and respect and leadership. They're not a cute accessory to be worn in a nightclub. It's not something you take lightly and throw on your head and wear to the bar or a concert."

H&M issued this statement:

"We always want to listen to our customers and their feedback, our intention was never to offend anyone or to be insensitive. We chose to remove the headdress inspired accessory from our shelves. This was a limited edition item that was sold in 5 of the 62 locations we operate in Canada."

CTV reports that H&M pulled the headdress after hearing three complaints; however, they have not commented on whether they are removing the accessory from stores in other countries.

Victoria's Secret made a similar mistake recently when the company outfitted a model in Native American-style headdress, leopard-print underwear, turquoise jewelry, and high heels.

Image source.

Discussion Starters:

  • What's your view of the situation? Did H&M do the right thing, did the customer overreact, or something else?
  • Compare this situation to that of Victoria's Secret. What are the similarities and differences in the use of the headdress and how the companies responded?