Why We’re Not Really Here For The H&M Jumpsuit Controversy

EmbedPhoto: Courtesy of H&M.
Fashion controversies typically fall into one of three categories. There are willfully offensive items (remember those "Eat Less" T-shirts?). There are the ones that are accidentally offensive, but should probably still have been caught and pulled from sale (like Urban Outfitters' recent "bloody" Kent State sweatshirt). And, finally, there are those controversies that are just a tad trumped-up.
The story of the H&M jumpsuits that supposedly resemble uniforms worn by female Kurdish soldiers fighting ISIS in the Middle East is, in our opinion, firmly one of the latter. The Daily Mail reports that the jumpsuits first started to make waves on Twitter and Facebook, where comments such as this one from Arwin Banirad appeared:
"Disgraceful to say the least. At times like these, they choose to capitalise from the brave Kurdish fighters...They should be ashamed of themselves!" Another wrote: "Wtf this is our traditional uniform it is not for every one.[sic]"
In a statement regarding the controversy, H&M apologized for the offense, and explained that any similarity to the uniforms was accidental:
"At H&M we want to offer the latest fashion and trends and we continuously listen to the requests from our customers. Our current collection offers a selection of over 10 jumpsuit styles in multiple materials and colors, such as denim blue and deep red. This particular jumpsuit is made in a light and comfortable material and is a part of a larger collection containing many garments in khaki green, one of the trendiest colors this season. The opinions of our customers are very important to us. It is never our intention to offend anyone and we will keep this feedback in mind for future collections."
The thing is, jumpsuits, unless they're of the spangly variety, generally are influenced by military wear. But, over time, they've also evolved into a fashion staple and are now largely divorced from their original connotations, just like denim is no longer a signifier of a Gold Rush prospector or a factory worker. Many people would think nothing of wearing an olive-green cargo pant, a style influenced by military fatigues, or a watch cap similar to those worn on naval ships. Despite any similarities, we see the H&M piece as no more offensive to Kurdish soldiers than a pea coat would be to a member of the Navy.
At any rate, it was decent of the brand to apologize to those who are offended; we hope no one hates us if we're mighty interested in checking out that jumpsuit in denim. (Daily Mail)
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