Revolve Clothing issued a mea culpa in the early hours of Friday for inadvertently causing a furor with its LPA slogan shirts. “We messed up big. We are so sorry for hurting and offending you,” the company posted on its Instagram account.
In what began as a campaign to protest against internet trolls, the online retailer wound up offending many more women when it released a photo of a sample-sized model wearing an LPA x Lena slogan T-shirt that said “Being Fat Is Not Beautiful It’s an Excuse.”
What wasn’t clear in the viral image was the much smaller phrase “as told to Paloma” underneath the quote. What was clear was sample-size of the model wearing it. Curvy model Paloma Elsesser was one of five famous women who chose real-life negative comments on their Instagram feeds to be featured on shirts meant to call out cyberbullying. The LPA x Lena collection was conceived with actress-writer-producer Lena Dunham and collaborators Emily Ratajkowski, Cara Delevingne and Suki Waterhouse.
In its statement Revolve went on to say, “The LPA x Lena collection was a project that we stood behind and believed in. The product released on our site was part of a collaboration intended to shine a light on the darkness of the Internet, by printing real-life, damaging comments that have been left on the social media feeds of women everywhere.
The intention was not to promote or endorse these hateful words, but instead to empower all women by making them understand that even the world’s most beautiful and successful women have been subject to hateful messages from internet bullies.
Through a horrible oversight on our part, the hateful comment shaming Paloma for her weight was not shot on an appropriate model, as we are horrified and incredibly sorry that we made this mistake.”
The company stated that it pulled the product and canceled the line before a single item was sold, and that it will donate $20,000 to Girls Write Now, the organization meant to benefit from the campaign.
While LPA founder Pia Arrobio has been known for provocative marketing and her collaborators haven’t shied away from controversy in the past, even Dunham posted that she was “deeply disappointed” in the way the shirts were photographed.
One would imagine the best damage control would be keeping a low profile, but in the age of fast fashion, instant messaging and viral images, that might be wishful thinking.