Fast fashion retailer H&M has been criticised for stocking a girls’ singlet that appears to encourage the use of the drug ice, an increasingly popular and destructive form of methamphetamine.
The Swedish retailer is the latest brand to come under fire for stocking controversial products, after Urban Outfitters, Zara and Cotton On all faced a backlash for various offensive products this year.
The singlet, which is stocked at H&M’s Melbourne GPO store and retails for $14.95, features the slogan ‘I only got ice for you’, according to Fairfax Media.
The style and cheap price point has led to the accusation the singlet is aimed at young people and encourages the use of ice.
Major Brendan Nottle of the Salvation Army told Fairfax ice was highly addictive and highly destructive.
“When you have worked with people affected by ice, you would know ice is no laughing matter,” said Nottle. “It is not something that should be presented in a light-hearted way.”
The drug has gained increasing notoriety in recent years, with the new Victorian Labor government announcing the drug will be the subject of a state parliamentary inquiry.
Marketing expert Michelle Gamble, from Marketing Angels, told SmartCompany it was a risky move by H&M to stock such a singlet.
“Ice has been in the media recently,” says Gamble. “It’s a far reaching problem.”
Gamble says H&M clearly has a younger target market and it is hard to imagine what the reference to ‘ice’ would be, other than a reference to the drug.
“It does seem quite blatant,” says Gamble, pointing out another possibility could be a misguided retro reference to 90s hip-hop star Vanilla Ice.
“It is probably the result of a bad approval process, of someone not thinking through the other meanings. But they’d be wise to pull it, given how young their target market is. It’s a an everybody brand, families shop there so it’s not appropriate.”
Gamble says it would also be wise for H&M to make an apology statement about how the shirt ended up on shelves.
H&M apologised for the singlet in a statement. “We are truly sorry if we have offended anyone with this design,” said a spokesperson.
“The word ‘ice’ is in reference to jewelry and diamonds and the slogan is just a play on these words. In no way do we promote or encourage the use of drugs.”*
*This article was updated on Tuesday December 16, after the release of a statement by H&M.