September 9, 2012
It looks like Hollister has a new problem on its hands. And, no, it’s not another case of bed bugs or people getting lost in their dimly lit stores. This time, the mass retailer is facing racial discrimination accusations from their recently opened South Korea outpost.
For the grand opening of the first Hollister store in Korea in Yeouido, models dressed as lifeguards were flown in to take photos with customers — you know, the same drill we get stateside. Something we don’t see during the store openings here in the states? Models flipping their middle finger and mocking the customers. Lee Hyung-Judescribed the offensive actions on the English Korean news site koreaBANG:
“Images of models making ‘squinty eyes’ faces, flipping their middle finger to photographers, and mocking Asian pronunciation of English appeared on their Twitter accounts.”
Hollister had brought in four models for the marketing event that lasted from August 30 until September 2, according to koreaBANG. But, customers soon discovered that a couple of the models had posted offensive pictures to their Twitter accounts. One photo features a Hollister model standing in front of Gyeongbokkung Palace, squinting his eyes and making peace signs with his fingers. When one commenter remarked on how many Asians had liked the photo, he responded, “Hahahaha they ruhhvvvv itttt!”
To make matters worse, it was discovered that a third model had flashed his middle finger during the photo session at the store opening and went on to post his own mocking photos on Twitter, according to koreaBANG. Local papers have been covering the controversy, and Korean customers have started to threaten boycotts. Hollister was quick to respond with an apology on their Facebook page:
“In summary, the company terminated the couple of associates involved. On behalf of our more than 80,000 associates around the world who cherish our core values and our culture of diversity and inclusion, we sincerely apologize for the offense caused by these unauthorized, ill-considered actions.”