A French luxury retailer has learned the hard way that just because Kanye West thinks you’re cool, it doesn’t mean anyone else does.
French designer Jean Touitou issued an apology Thursday for having recently named a line of his clothing after a song West recorded with Jay-Z. The problem? The song’s title, “Niggas in Paris,” struck an overwhelming number of people as a deeply offensive name for a line of clothes, regardless of how chic.
Touitou, who is white (and French), apologized Thursday for speaking “recklessly using terms that were both ignorant and offensive” and for his “poor choice of words,” issuing a statement that can be found on his Twitter profile.
— jean touitou (@jeantouitou) January 29, 2015
Still, it may be a case of too little, too late. Touitou is the founder and creative director for a clothing label called A.P.C., known for its minimalist separates. He has released two collaborative collections with West in the past, most recently for a fall/winter ’14 line.
But Touitou may have overestimated the protection his association with Kanye has granted him. According to a report from Style.com, while presenting his fall/winter 2015 collection earlier this week the designer held up a sign that read “LAST NI##@$ IN PARIS.”
A photo posted by obversion (@theobversion) on
Asked to clarify, Touitou later explained in an email that read:
One hip-hop song is called ‘N****s in Paris.’ One movie is called Last Tango in Paris. I made looks which are a cross-over of those two references: the Timberland shoes and the sweat pants are iconic of hip-hop, and the camel hair color coat, worn with nothing under it, is iconic of that precise movie. I am friends with Kanye, and he and I presented a joint collection at the same place, one year ago, and that this thing is only a homage to our friendship. As a matter of fact, when I came up with this idea, I wrote to him, with the picture of the look and the name I was giving to it, and he wrote back immediately saying something like, ‘I love this vibe.’
The fallout online was as furious as it was fast. Timberland issued a statement from the company’s president Wednesday saying that it was severing ties with A.P.C.
“We have chosen to immediately terminate our involvement with the A.P.C. brand, including the footwear collaboration we had planned for this fall,” the statement read. “Simply stated, this kind of language and approach is in complete contrast with our values … We will not tolerate offensive language or racial slurs of any kind being associated with the Timberland brand.”
A.P.C. did not return requests for a comment, and it is possible that the racial insensitivity of the designer was merely a question of cultural ignorance. But since January 27, social analytics firm Brandwatch reported seeing more than 3,500 mentions of the incident, and have seen six times more negative mentions than positive of the incident.
WAIT, WHAT?!: A.P.C Founder Says The N-Word MULTIPLE Times During Fashion Show Presentation And Kanye West APPROVES! https://t.co/nTaBDLcOO4
— Cincy513 (@marnold0h3) January 29, 2015
I think i might be done wit Kanye after this APC stuff. He wants to be accepted in the fashion industry so bad hes willing to shuck and jive — #GymFlow Rodriguez (@AugustCulture) January 29, 2015
Wonder how jay feels about this whole “niggas in Paris” apc presentation and the fact that kanye co signed
— Breanna Celestin (@braybraycee) January 29, 2015
Many of the mentions made note of the Timberland news (2,700 mentions). And while sentiment tended to be negative towards A.P.C. and West, there were many more positive mentions about Timberland severing ties with the designer.
Kanye West, who appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show Thursday to promote his new album, didn’t bring up the episode. But almost 20 percent of Twitter users discussing the event made note that Kanye West “approves” or “approved” the name of the line.
Why one agency is drawing inspiration from Jesus and avocados for Super Bowl marketing
Lerma's founder and CEO talks about the relevance of a multicultural marketing approach, the growing influence of Hispanic culture and more.
Google-Meta duopoly continues to creak in their ‘heightened maturity’ as Amazon, Apple ascend
The shadow both Apple and Amazon have cast over advertising dollars is getting longer by the quarter.
Why advertisers are still making space for experimental budgets even with economic uncertainty
Even in the midst of economic uncertainty, advertisers are bullish on experimental ad spend.
SponsoredWhy Best Buy Ads sees retail media as integral to its customer-centric purpose
Sponsored by Best Buy Ads Retail media networks have become critical for marketers, with retailers investing in ways that enable advertisers to engage consumers across online and offline channels. Given the wealth of retailers’ first-party customer data and measurement capabilities, retail media networks have become a natural fit for augmenting performance marketing programs. Alongside the […]
Marketers move beyond the basics of ChatGPT with new tools
Companies are setting their sights past OpenAI's free version and integrating their own data sets for new ads, bots and idea generators.
How the recession could impact brands’ metaverse spending
Digiday reached out to four experts to figure out how brands’ spending in the metaverse might change as they tighten the purse straps in preparation for a recession. Here are some of the biggest takeaways.