It may only be mid-January but it's been a tumultuous year for H&M, to say the least. The Swedish multinational fashion company suffered a heavy social media backlash in reaction to an image used on its UK online store which was perceived as being racially insensitive.
As a result, notable celebrities publicly cut their ties with the brand and several H&M branches in South Africa had to temporarily close due to vandalism and protests. All of this happened incidentally shortly after H&M announced its intentions to launch an "affordable luxury" label, specifically aimed at the "socially-conscious" millennial.
In Berlin, at the afterparty of the Damir Doma Fw18 show at Halle Am Berghian, one fashion blogger caught our eye by actually wearing the hoodie, which prompted a lot of questions on our part. Who are you? Is this just post-internet fashion trolling? Wasn't the hoodie only available in kids sizes?
Jakob, the notorious German fashion blogger and one half of Dandy Diary, spoke to us about it afterwards.
First, tell us about Dandy Diary?
Dandy Diary is basically my friend David’s and my website which we use as a platform to publish our thoughts on contemporary fashion, lifestyle and life in general. It’s in German and we’re much too lazy to publish everyday.
Some of our better known works include a streaker we smuggled into a Dolce & Gabbana show during Milan Fashion Week and an alternative ad we published for H&M’s Alexander Wang collaboration (we were forced by H&M to delete the video).
Dandy Diary is based in Berlin.
What did you think of Damir Doma show?
It surprised me that Damir Doma came to Berlin. It’s not really Premiere League compared to Paris and Milan. The setting at Berghain was really nice though and I liked the grooming of the models. Fashion-wise I’m not decided yet, to be honest. It didn’t struck me immediately.
So you wore that "Coolest Monkey in The Jungle" hoodie last night. Is it the official H&M version or is it custom made?
We did the sweater the day the scandal broke out because we knew that H&M would pull all sweaters from their stores. So we went to some of their stores here in Berlin and bought exactly 50 plain green hoodies, went to a print studio and printed the slogan on it.
So it’s half official: an H&M hoodie with our reprint of their print. Copy and paste, sampling, etc. We’re selling these for 70 euro - mostly to cover printing and buying costs. Write me an email if you want one: email@example.com.
It’s probably the most controversial fashion item right now. Why did you decide to wear it?
I thought the story would need another twist and wanted to bring the internet discussion to the streets. Also I didn’t want to let H&M off the hook too fast. I’m curious what their reaction will be. Maybe sue us (again) for disrespecting their copyright on a shady sweater. Maybe they want the exclusive right on the slogan.
I thought it’s about time.
What kind of reactions have you had from wearing it?
Everyone was pretty positive, which surprised me. I expected some more mixed reactions.
Do you think the fashion industry is as liberal or socially progressive as it purports to be?
An industry that promotes buying a whole new wardrobe at least four times a year can’t be called progressive, I think. Liberal: yes! Neoliberal, actually.
How do you think the industry could prove itself to be more socially progressive?
Paying Asian labor fair wages, stop using dead animals as fabric, stop flying people around the globe to see 10-minute catwalk shows.
Visit Dandy Diary here.