Nike’s attempt to introduce a new piece of headgear into their brand has backfired in a major way. New ads for their balaclava, a face covering similar in design to a ski-mask, are being pulled following backlash from critics who feel the item being worn by a Black model promotes gang culture while the company profits from racial stereotypes.
In addition to covering most of the face, the balaclava includes straps that appear to resemble shoulder holsters, with the visual rubbing several the wrong way.
THIS IS NOT RIGHT @nike @nikelondon
I think you’ve made a big mistake on this one, targeting the current Gang culture for profit, there’s 100’s of dead kids parents that you should be thinking about before you made these, let alone put them out for sale. pic.twitter.com/lPRoYWzyWX
— MR DT © (@MrDtAFC) August 19, 2018
This is a disgrace #Nike marketing Gang Culture a £70 Balaclava. #knifecrime is out of control especially in London. Gang Culture is becoming out of control. This is disgusting gang culture fashion for profit. I can’t believe this is happening ! pic.twitter.com/w2gtAVK7Vt
— Pete Price (@PeteCityPrice) August 20, 2018
Hey @nike what are you thinking with this image on your website? Is he wearing a balaclava and a holster? I wonder what’s meant to go in there🤔🔪
Don’t act like you don’t know there’s a knife crime issue in London right now. You’re not allowed to be this stupid. pic.twitter.com/7gEk1oKhkI
— David Riley (@DRileyamusing) August 19, 2018
“These products were part of a wider Nike Training collection, styled on different models and available in multiple markets around the world,” a Nike spokesperson told The Independent. “We are in no way condoning or encouraging the serious issue of criminal and gang culture.”
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.