Japanese giant UNIQLO has found itself in some controversy due to its Musée du Louvre collection. The collection features some of the most famous artworks displayed at the Louvre. The collection is quite simple, and something that art aficionados could easily enjoy. The collection as such is fine and seemingly harmless, but UNIQLO ended up finding itself in the midst of online outrage as people took to Twitter to complain about the collection. What happened?
The problem arose with the way UNIQLO decided to promote the collection. One of the issues that has feminists upset is that UNIQLO’s website uses terms like “beautiful” when describing the art pieces for the women’s collection, while using words like “intelligent” for the men’s one.
Additionally, one of the main issues was that UNIQLO’s website said that the collection celebrated the diversity of women. Had UNIQLO opted not to include that, the online furor would not have ensued. Despite the ambiguity of what exactly the company meant by “diversity of women,” one of the bigger issues is that, historically, women are grossly misrepresented in art. So to most people, UNIQLO’s concept of celebrating the diversity of women meant that their collection would include female artists.
However, the collection actually features the women and women bodies male artists painted or sculpted. As such, the celebration of the “diversity of women” felt to many as a joke, and the company’s word choices and actions as tone-deaf.
As a result, people on Twitter jokingly shared that if UNIQLO wanted to use the “diversity of women” in art, they should have also used paintings like this one:
— にーにー (@00kate22) February 7, 2021
This comes just as Mori Yoshiro, the head of the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee, infuriated people across Japan after stating that women’s speaking time should be limited because they talked too much during meetings. The remarks resulting in calls for Mori’s resignation (though he is not stepping down). The controversy has been descending as an avalanche, engulfing other public figures as well. Prime Minister Suga, for example, is facing anger after his weak approach to Mori’s remarks.
And as newspapers and social media were flooded with angry comments and articles about the issue, UNIQLO released their Louvre collaboration
UNIQLO’s controversy might seem insignificant compared with the Mori scandal, but it so perfectly illustrates the same problems behind Mori’s reproachable statements; and while Mori’s delivery was completely intentional, UNIQLO’s mistakes shows that double-standards and biases can run deep and filter through every step of the decision process.
It can be hard to imagine that no one at UNIQLO was able to notice that their website’s wording could make people upset; and yet, that’s exactly what happened. We should also not rule out the possibility of people noticing the problem but failing to voice their opinions because of the toxic business culture that has come to permeate Japanese companies.
Nevertheless, UNIQLO’s controvery serves as a reminder that there is still a lot of work to be done in order to earase the mindsets and biases that have come to denigrate the roles of women. Mori’s mysogeny is obvious, UNIQLO’s might be more difficult to see for some.