Swedish retailer H&M has pulled feather headdresses from its festival-inspired collection in Canada after customers complained that the items are offensive to aboriginals.H&M's headresses literally ruffled the feathers of customers in Canada as the Swedish retailer received several complaints that the colourful accessory is offensive to aboriginals.
Left: the offending headdress
H&M spokeswoman Emily Scarlett 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."
"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," said Scarlett.
The fashion chain received three complaints and quickly made the decision to remove the headdresses from 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."
The "music festival" explanation didn't sit well with Kim Wheeler, an Ojibwa-Mohawk from Winnipeg, Manitoba, who said the $15 (approx £10) accessories make a mockery of her culture.
"My first instinct was to buy all of them and throw them in the garbage," Wheeler said.
The 44-year-old media relations worker and former Canadian Press employee said she first saw the fashion accessories while shopping with her daughter last week at the store in Vancouver, British Columbia. She said she quickly realised she wasn't prepared to spend that much money to make a point that might not be heard.
Instead, she fired off an email to the company.
"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... People in my community have kind of been fighting that whole 'hipster headdressing' for a while now."
H&M isn't alone in causing offence; Urban Outfitters was accused of exploiting the term 'Navajo', which is trademarked by the Navajo Nation, when it launched a line of clothing using the name in 2009, while in 2012, lingerie giant Victoria's Secret apologised after it featured an American Indian-style headdress in its annual fashion show.
H&M pulls feather headdress from Canada stores - Telegraph