In an age of viral social media hashtags and female empowerment slogans, it’s easy to see why clothing brands latch onto a slogan and like to slap it onto their apparel. If a picture is worth a thousand words, in the fashion industry a shirt with the perfect phrase can be worth millions. Or, as billion-dollar e-commerce brand Revolve is learning, it’ll cost them as much.
In the latest controversy around the brand often criticized for it’s lack of diversity in sizes and representation, Revolve’s latest arroz con mango- style flub might not be costing them as much as a million dollars, it is causing them to fork over $20,000 to charity as well as a few mea culpas to customers, models, and influencers.
On Thursday, promo photos for a new line of sweatshirts by the brand was released to the public and featured fatphobic messages that had fans in an upset.
Someone explain to me how thin people wearing these sweaters are supposed to aid in any type of empowerment for fat people? 🤔🧐🤨
Because to me, it just looks like some straight up fatphobia.
@REVOLVE this ain’t it…
shoutout to FlorenceGiven for posting about this pic.twitter.com/DPfvc516ya
— Mysse Match (@myssematch) September 12, 2018
The sweatshirt was part of a line that was meant to “highlight quotes from prominent women who have experienced internet trolling & abuse”, with the proceeds intended to “benefit charities that help young women by empowering them to express themselves through writing and art.” The prematurely released sweater was supposed to raise money for the charity Girls Write Now and initially tapped big names like Lena Dunham, Emily Ratajkowski, Cara Delevingne, Suki Waterhouse and Paloma Elsesser (a plus-ze model) for help on the designs.
Featuring the words “Being Fat Is Not Beautiful It’s An Excuse” with a fairly small and hard to detect line that reads to “as told to Paloma Elsesser,” the sweater was photographed on a straight sized model. Which obviously caused shoppers to take a doubletake and then head to Twitter for some ridicule.
It didn’t take long for social users to react.
How rude pic.twitter.com/QiBmIR2kjU
— Bonita Applebum (@CynTwoHii) September 12, 2018
Plus-size model Tess Holiday was one of the first to bash the brand for the piece and quickly set off a firestorm of comments.
Many Latinas highlighted how the sweater was triggering.
You know I try very hard everyday I’m trying to loose weight and I get so let down by stuff like this 😥
— AgroDolceAzul (@AgriodulceA) September 12, 2018
Maybe if the attribution to Paloma was bigger, it would have worked??
Revolve also collaborated with LPA on the sweaters, in response to the backlash the clothing brand released an apology.
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What was conceived as a statement on today’s internet culture and its treatment of women has gone terribly wrong. We at LPA were so honored when Lena Dunham agreed to work with us on this capsule collection and, most importantly, thrilled at the exposure our work would give to such a serious issue. We coordinated each aspect of the collection itself, to the chosen quotes to the design. We were proud of our final product, the conversation it would start and – most importantly – the direct effect it would have on such an impactful charity in “Girls Write Now”. Where we faltered was not intention, sincerity or conception, but in my own lack of communication that lead to how the collection was portrayed on Revolve.com and the pre-mature release of the e-commerce imagery, a day prior to launch. We were planning to launch with an image of Lena in the sweatshirt along with our statement and explanation. I cannot apologize enough to my good friend Lena, and others, to all of LPA’s fans. We work hard to make the right choices every day, understanding the platform and the opportunity that we are lucky enough to have, and we are so sorry to have let you all down. We know the quotes within the collaboration were shocking, which was entirely the point. To spotlight how we've normalized the way we bully and speak negatively to one another via the internet. Given this controversy, we support Revolve.com and join them in their removal of the collection from our site. We are also proud to make our own donation to “Girls Write Now” – in honor to their commitment to this admirable cause.
“We know the quotes within the collaboration were shocking, which was entirely the point. To spotlight how we’ve normalized the way we bully and speak negatively to one another via the internet,” IPA wrote in a post to their Instagram page. before working with Revolve to pull the shirt.
In a separate statement about the sweater, Revolve apologized for the “The prematurely released image featured on Revolve.com” and explained that they “are proud to donate $20,000 to “Girls Write Now” in the hopes that those who need it can still benefit from what was to be a meaningful, insightful and impactful collaboration by LPA.”