Here We Go Again: H&M Pulls Offensive Headdresses From Canadian Stores

Another day, another offensive fashion incident involving headdresses. This time, H&M has angered aboriginals in Canada by selling feathered headgear.

(It should be noted that the headdress above is similar but not exactly the one pulled from stores; it's an earlier H&M headband The Fashion Spot saw on eBay.)

Chris Purdy at the Canadian Press reports that faux feather headdresses have been pulled from shelves in stores across Canada.

Kim Wheeler, an Ojibwa-Mohawk from Winnipeg, said she first saw the $15 fashion accessories while shopping with her daughter last week at the store in Vancouver's Pacific Centre mall.

"My first instinct was to buy all of them and throw them in the garbage," said Wheeler. "It's not honouring us. It's not flattering us. It's making a mockery of our culture.

"We just don't think it's cool."

Wheeler wrote a letter to the company, outlining the issue:

"Headdresses are worn by chiefs in some of our communities ... It is a symbol of respect and honour and should not be for sale as some sort of cute accessory. It is not honourable nor flattering. People in my community have kind of been fighting that whole 'hipster headdressing' for a while now."

The National Post has a statement from the retailer:

Emily Scarlett, a Toronto-based spokeswoman for the Swedish fashion chain, said the hair pieces — patterned head bands with bright pink and purple flowers — were part of the company’s summer music festival collection called “H&M Loves Music.”

Flowered wreaths in honour of the sixties were also part of the line.

“Music festivals these days are really about experimenting with fashion and dressing your personality. And they’re very heavily based on accessories, really accessorizing your look.”

She said the company received three complaints about the headdresses and quickly made the decision to remove them from the market. An order to remove the items went out Tuesday to its 61 Canadian locations.

“Of course we never want to offend anybody or come off as insensitive,” Scarlett said. “We’re always about being there for our customers.”


In 2011, Urban Outfitters started selling "Navajo" garments, and were subsequently sued by the Navajo Nation; Navajo is a people, not a pattern. In 2012, Victoria's Secret sent Karlie Kloss down the runway in a feathered war bonnet. H&M's faux pas is just the latest in a wave of inappropriate trends, and unfortunately, it seems like this probably won't be the last time we see cultural appropriation masquerading as hip fashion accessory. As Emma Jones at The Fashion Spot points out, in addition to Selena Gomez's bindi, feathers are everywhere right now. No end in sight.

[CTV News, National Post, The Fashion Spot]