Pharrell Williams recently visited India to announce his latest clothing and footwear collaboration with Adidas Originals, called ‘Hu Holi.’ The collection of sneakers, shirts, hoodies and shorts are inspired by the Hindu spiritual festival Holi, which celebrates the beginning of spring in India and Nepal. The apparel replicates the vibrant colours left on clothing from powdered dyes that are thrown in the air during the festival.
Unfortunately, Williams’ collection is sparking major backlash online, with people calling out Adidas for cultural appropriation.
A European company getting an American musician to market a line of apparel/footwear inspired by an Indian festival 🤔
— Ishita Trivedi (@Ishita_Trivedi) March 2, 2018
Some are upset that the company didn’t even bother to market the products with an Indian celebrity as the face of the collection.
Something about Adidas’ new collection screams cultural appropriation… using our festival to sell a brand, and it’s shoes on top of it all, which Hindus would easily take offense too..and there’s not even an Indian celeb at the face of it @HYPEBEAST @adidasoriginals @HuffPost https://t.co/eNJSlSGWzQ
— prarthana iyer (@prarthanaiyer) March 2, 2018
Another points out that the apparel, which is priced at $100 to $350, could be obtained much cheaper if someone just attended a Holi festival for free.
Uhhhhh @Pharrell and @adidas trying to make people dish out $200 for a “Holi Hoodie?” You know people can wear anything white to Holi and get this look for free right? Not saying you’re trying to capitalize on a Hindu holiday but….🤔 pic.twitter.com/aRRXWPmKxE
— Bhavin Patel (@Bhav1n) March 2, 2018
It’s worth noting that not all the online reaction has been negative. Some people don’t believe there is an issue with the ‘Hu Holi’ collection.
i cannot believe people are mad about the pharrell collab…. holi is like x’mas, it would be like being mad there’s a x’mas sweater
— AMRIT (@_itsamrit) March 12, 2018
In response to the backlash, an Adidas spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter that “Hu was founded upon the principles of unity, equality, humanity, and colour with an intention to explore humanity and celebrate diversity around the world. Together Adidas Originals and Pharrell Williams use the platform to help tell stories of others from around the globe.”
President of Universal Society of Hinduism Rajan Zed is urging Pharrell to change the name of the collection.
In a statement on his website Zed says, “Inappropriate usage of Hinduism concepts or symbols or imagery for commercial or other agenda [is] not okay as it might be painful to many devotees.”
“Pharrell Williams and Adidas should have done some homework before taking Hinduism concepts frivolously and using these to make a fashion statement and sell shoes for mercantile greed, some of which contain leather,” Zed later added.
This isn’t the first time Pharrell has been accused of cultural appropriation. Back in 2014 he was called out for wearing a Native American feather headdress on the cover of Elle UK. He apologized after Twitter backlash, so it will be interesting to see how he responds to his latest blunder.