Hollister Models Post Racist Photos from South Korea Store Opening, Get Fired

Valerie Isakova, Shine Parenting Editor
FashionSeptember 10, 2012

Surf-prepster brand Hollister's dude posse of shirtless "lifeguard" models got into trouble for racist photos and actions at a recent store-opening in Yeouido, South Korea.

More from Shine: Hollister: Hell on earth

One all-American-appearing brand ambassador in a "Hollister Surf Guard" t-shirt posed making fake "slanty-eyes" in front of local tourist attraction, Royal Gueongbokkung Palace and posted the photo on his personal Twitter account. When a follower commented 'please look at how many Asians liked that picture... Impressive', the model from the photo wrote, with a fake "Asian" accent, 'Hahahaha they ruhhvvvv ittt!'.

In another, separate incident, reported on by the U.K. paper The Daily Mail, a model posing with locals during the store opening was covertly giving the middle finger to the camera. Both incidents were originally reported on Sept 7th by English-language Korean blog KoreaBang. Koreans aware of the incident, the paper said, were offended. "I've got to go and return the clothes that I bought," KoreaBang reported one local saying.

The Hollister tradition of flying in for store openings what KoreaBang described as "robust foreign men dressed like lifeguards, wearing nothing on their chests but whistles" also stirred up some local racism and sexism, as comments on the blog indicated. The presumably male commenters objected to the Korean women who would enjoy posing and having their photo taken with the Hollister models and made slurs against both Korean girls and whites in general.

Yahoo! Shine looked on Hollister's Facebook page and found many critical user comments, including those saying "stupid racists shame on you. I'm done with Hollister," and "You make me ashamed to be part of the American culture. How can you not screen your employees on cultural awareness."

In a statement on its Facebook page that's since been taken down, The Daily Mail reported, Hollister claimed to have fired the models responsible, and wrote: "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."

It's not the first time that the brand's reality has fallen far short of its utopian, preppy-meets-Cali image. In 2010, several Manhattan Hollister stores reported a bed-bug infestation. And in 2011 there were reports of people getting lost in the dimly lit stores.

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