Zara faces boycott as controversial advert draws comparisons to Israel-Hamas war scenes

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Updated Jan 5, 2024 at 03:24 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

Pro-Palestine supporters are calling for a boycott of Spanish fast fashion giant Zara in response to its recent ad campaign. The multinational retailer has become the latest brand facing calls for a boycott over its perceived association with Israel amid the ongoing war. The controversy arose following the launch of Zara’s latest new collection, titled ‘The Jacket’, whose promotional campaign featured images of mannequins wrapped in white cloth and plastic.

Many critics have argued that the imagery closely resembles scenes of bodies wrapped in traditional burial attire in Gaza and therefore accused the brand of appropriating symbols and exploiting scenes of destruction for a fashion campaign. The advertisement also features American model Kristen McMenamy holding a mannequin covered in white cloth, a visual that some claim resembles scenes from the Israel-Hamas war.

 

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A post shared by ZARA Official (@zara)

In an Instagram post, Palestinian artist Hazem Harb expressed strong condemnation of Zara, stating that the use of death and destruction as a backdrop for fashion was “beyond sinister” and urging consumers to boycott the brand: “There is a sinister depravity in the commercial mind that produced this ad, while we are living a real-time genocide. There is no way this is not intentional. Especially when we know of Zara’s support for the Zionists. Using death and destruction as a backdrop for fashion is beyond sinister, its complicity should outrage us as consumers. Boycott Zara.”

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A post shared by Hazem Harb (@hazemharb)

Additionally, other pictures in the campaign, including McMenamy inside a wooden box, sparked controversy as social media users drew parallels to images of coffins. Some even pointed out similarities between the ad’s plywood boards and the map of Palestine. Social media users joined the chorus of frustration and anger, emphasising that the suffering in Gaza should not be exploited for aesthetic or commercial purposes.

Some users shared images of Palestinians holding the bodies of their loved ones wrapped in white clothing, once again drawing parallels with Zara’s branding. The hashtag #boycottZara is also gaining widespread attention online.

Dr Noor Amra and Dr Hina Cheema took to Instagram to collaborate on a post that read: “I refuse to believe that the PR team of a global firm like @zara wouldn’t have considered the optics of their new campaign released in the middle of a genocide. We have all seen the devastating images of shrouded bodies coming out of Gaza this is just an example but there are thousands more. It’s clearly a deliberate mocking of Palestinians. They know exactly what they are doing!”

 

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A post shared by Dr. Noor Amra, MD (@eyegirlmd)

This controversy comes not long after Zara’s head designer Vanessa Perilman was found guilty of making anti-Palestinian comments in a private social media conversation with Palestinian model Qaher Harhash. In now-deleted screenshots of the conversation, Perilman stated: “Maybe if your people were educated then they wouldn’t blow up the hospitals and schools that Israel helped to pay for in Gaza. The people in my industry know the truth about Israel and Palestine and I will never stop defending Israel and people like you come and go in the end. Israel doesn’t teach children to hate nor throw stones at soldiers as your people do.”

Despite the backlash, Zara has not released an official statement addressing the situation. The boycott movement against multinational brands with ties to Israel has been gaining momentum over the past few weeks, impacting companies such as McDonald’s, KFC, Starbucks and H&M. Recent reports also suggest that these boycotts are effective in impacting sales, with Starbucks reportedly losing $11 billion in value since 16 November 2023.

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