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Nike accused of racial stereotyping with gang-inspired balaclava

By John Glenday | Reporter

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August 21, 2018 | 3 min read

Marketers at sportswear brand Nike have been critcised after advertising a gang-inspired branded balaclava for sale using a black model.

The full face covering extends down to the chest leaving only a single opening for the eyes and nothing but Nike’s signature ‘tick’ trademark for identification.

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Nike accused of racial stereotyping with gang-inspired balaclava

The NikeLab NRG Berrylium Balaclava x MMW launched on 12 July and retails for £69. It is ostensibly intended to keep the wearer warm but publicity photos depicting a young black man with military-style accessories sparked outrage, particularly in London which is in the grip of an outbreak in gang violence.

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In a video posted on Twitter the comedian White Yardie condemned the garment, saying: “Tell me this a joke, because right now it looks like you are targeting the young people who are involved in gang crime, and with all these recent stabbings that we have been seeing right now in London, this is definitely something we don’t want to see.”

A Nike spokesperson countered: “These products were part of a wider Nike Training collection, styled on different models and available in multiple markets around the world. We are in no way condoning or encouraging the serious issue of criminal and gang culture.”

Nevertheless this negative reaction appears to have been heeded by Nike with the balaclava apparently removed from sale, attempts to locate the product on the Nike website are met only with the message: ‘The product you are looking for is no longer available'.

H&M previously withdrew a 'racist hoodie' from sale after employing a black child model to wear the garment, emblazoned with the words 'Coolest monkey in the jungle'.

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Nike, Inc. is an American multinational corporation that is engaged in the design, development, manufacturing, and worldwide marketing and sales of footwear, apparel, equipment, accessories, and services.

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