Why Was ASOS Selling A “Slave” T-Shirt?

Photo: Courtesy of Wasted Heroes.
ASOS has landed itself in very hot water for selling a T-shirt emblazoned with the word "slave." The extremely unfortunate item was made even more offensive (if that's even possible) because it was pictured on a Black model. The shirt was offered on the U.K. retailer's multi-seller sister website, ASOS Marketplace; it has since been yanked offline, thankfully. “Whenever we find product that violates our policies we remove it immediately. There is also a ‘report this item’ link under every product picture,” according to a statement an ASOS rep provided Refinery29. Though the offending item is no longer available on ASOS Marketplace, it's likeness has unfortunately been preserved on Twitter. A user tweeted at the brand demanding an explanation:
Brands are obliged to agree with the ASOS Marketplace terms and conditions when they join the e-comm site. This shirt's seller, Wasted Heroes, a Brit brand based in Liverpool, must not have read through thoroughly before putting the incriminating garment up for sale. A different iteration of the shirt, lampooning Nike's swoosh, is still available on Wasted Heroes' site.
In addition to releasing a statement about the gaffe, ASOS addressed the problematic item via Twitter, above. Wasted Heroes also responded to angry and incredulous tweets about the shirt, explaining that the shirt is intended as a statement, of sorts, about being slavish to a brand. "It really was extremely stupid of us," the tweet concludes. Alas, there are many, many other ways that commentary on consumerism could've (and should've) been parlayed onto a T shirt...

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