Zara, the popular fashion retailer owned by Inditex, faced backlash and calls for a boycott from pro-Palestine activists due to its advertising campaign featuring mannequins with missing limbs and statues wrapped in white. The campaign, part of the “Atelier” collection launched on December 7, depicted scenes resembling an artist’s studio with models interacting with various objects. The images, which some critics argued resembled photos of corpses in white shrouds in Gaza, triggered a surge of comments on Zara’s Instagram account, with many posts featuring Palestinian flags. The hashtag “#BoycottZara” started trending on the messaging platform X.
Zara responded by removing the controversial images from the front page of its website and app, citing a routine content refresh as the reason for the change. The company did not explicitly address the boycott calls but emphasized that the collection was conceived in July and the photos were taken in September, well before the escalation of the conflict between Israel and Hamas that started after October 7. The heightened sensitivity surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict was evident in the social media reactions and the trending boycott hashtag. Zara’s move to replace the images underscores the challenges international brands face in navigating politically charged situations.
This incident is not the first time a fashion label faced controversy over its advertising. In the past, companies like Kering and Dolce & Gabbana have encountered backlash for various campaigns, prompting the industry to take measures to address brand safety and cultural sensitivity. The “Atelier” collection in question, featuring six jackets, is among Zara’s priciest, with prices ranging from $229 to $799. The collection’s inspiration was stated as men’s tailoring from past centuries, depicted in the images through an artist studio setting with various props.
Zara’s previous controversies include criticism from both Palestinians and Israelis when the head of the retailer’s local franchise in Israel hosted an event for an ultranationalist politician in 2022. Zara’s recent advertising campaign sparked controversy and calls for a boycott due to its perceived insensitivity in depicting scenes reminiscent of the Israel-Gaza conflict. The company responded by removing the images, but the incident highlights the challenges faced by global brands in addressing geopolitical sensitivities and social media activism.