LOS ANGELES – Foreign models visiting Korea to promote the opening of American clothing company Hollister’s store have come under fire for mocking Asians.
Four male models were flown in to work the opening of the first South Korean Hollister location in Yeouido on August 30, but rather than focusing on a model’s job of looking attractive and enticing consumers, two of them decided it was more appropriate to tweet a picture of themselves perpetuating the “squinty eyes” stereotype. A third model was seen flipping the bird while posing for photographs at the opening event.
With regards to one tweeted photo, a follower quipped, “Look at how many Asians liked that picture… impressive,” prompting the model to add fuel to the offensive fire with the response: “Hahahaha they ruhhvvvv itttt!”
Hollister’s parent company, Abercrombie & Fitch, says they have now fired the models.
“Hollister Co. and its parent company Abercrombie & Fitch value diversity and inclusion. In a recent incident in South Korea, a couple of associates did not adhere to these values,” a spokesperson said in a statement to FOX411's Pop Tarts column. “As a company, we do not tolerate inappropriate or offensive behavior. We terminated the associates involved as a result of their actions. On behalf of our more than 80,000 employees 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.”
But an axing and an apology may not be enough to satisfy some outraged organizations and customers.
“Shame on Hollister! It's offensive and racist to make ‘squinty eyes’ and speak gibberish to mock Asian accents. It's good that Abercrombie & Fitch, the parent company of Hollister, has apologized,” Margaret Fung, Executive Director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), a national organization that protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans, told us. “But with its own track record of selling racist T-shirts (remember the ‘Wong Brothers Laundry Service’ caricatures?), Abercrombie obviously needs to do a better job of educating all of its employees to refrain from using racist Asian stereotypes.”
In 2002, the clothing conglomerate was forced to pull the line of t-shirts, which featured such images as men with slanted eyes in conical hats taking jabs at the English pronunciation of East Asians, and ignited protests from Asians across the country.
"We hope Hollister takes swift action to investigate this matter, and ensure that the comments and actions of these employees are not indicative of the company's views towards individuals of Asian descent generally, especially given that its parent company agreed to root out such discriminatory treatment of Asian Americans and other communities of color as part of a settlement of a suit that the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and other civil rights groups brought against them,” the Asian Pacific American Legal Center Litigation Director Laboni Hoq said.
The Twitterverse isn't happy either..
“That store should be shut down, and I am not just talking in South Korea,” tweeted one, another wrote that the store “is run by douchebags for douchebags,” while others simply referred to the controversial pictures as “dumb,” “lame,” and “unbelievable.”
- Danielle-Jones Wesley contributed to this report.