• Sweden edition
 
H&M: 'Our fashion models are too thin'
Screenshots of models from H&M's autumn campaign.

H&M: 'Our fashion models are too thin'

Published: 14 Nov 2013 15:38 GMT+01:00

On Thursday, H&M released its new luxury collaborative collection with French designer Isabel Marant, but that wasn't the only reason the Swedish fashion chain was making headlines. Facing criticism that the models in its fall campaign are too thin, company spokeswoman Karin Bringevall surprised the Swedish press by conceding to the accusations.

"We agree that some of our models are too thin, and it's something we are going to look over," Bringevall wrote in an email to newspaper Expressen on Wednesday.  "This is a very important issue for us and something we are working to improve."

The statement came after Israeli fashion photographer Adi Barkan publicly criticized the company's global autumn campaign.

"It's obvious that several of these women have BMI's below 18.5. I don't know if they fixed it with Photoshop, but it looks terrible. No one can tell me these are healthy women. No way," Barkan said to Sveriges Television (SVT). "And the girls who go to the store, they see the skinny girls and they want to be like the skinny girls. We know that."

Barkan, who runs a modeling agency in Tel Aviv, has campaigned widely for legislation banning anorexic models. In March 2012, Israel was the first country in the world to outlaw underweight models, and today no model with a Body Mass Index BMI below 18.5 is allowed in commercials or on the catwalk. 

Although the legislation has been in place since 2012 it has yet to be tested in court - though H&M's campaign may change that. 

"It's obvious they have not followed Israeli law," said Israeli gynaecologist and lawyer Rachel Adato to SVT, adding that she has already been in contact with other lawyers about the issue. Adato stated that anorexia is the number one cause of death for Israeli women between the ages of 15 and 23. "It’s about time to do something about it in court."

The BMI scale compares weight to height, and a healthy weight should fall between 20 and 25, while anything above it is overweight. People who score below 18.5 are classified as underweight by healthcare practitioners who use the index as reference.

 "We do not work with models who are noticeably underweight," H&M's Bringevall told Expressen. But Barkan is sceptical.

"Why photograph the models and then distance yourself once the pictures are out?" Barkan retorted on SVT. "This isn't just about thin or too thin, it's about life and death. It's better to have an eye on the models before they are even photographed." 

Bringevall confirmed to The Local that the models have not been made thinner in Photoshop, and are simply that thin.

Exactly what action the company will take remains unclear. Although H&M has not released an official statement, when The Local contacted H&M, Bringevall responded by recycling the same email sent to Expressen. The company has refused all requests to comment over the phone.

"It is too early too say concretely what will be done," Bringevall wrote to The Local. "This is a very important question for us. But on the other hand we do not think BMI is a reliable measure to guarantee images with a healthy body image."

Earlier this year H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson admitted some of the company's models were too thin, but also claimed that for many of them, it was natural. When newspaper Metro asked what would happen if H&M were to take the lead and try to influence other companies to use full-figured models, Persson was evasive, saying such an approach may not work.

"It's hard to say. It's possible that we can be on board and make a change, but it really is such a big industry," he said. 

Adato views such passive behaviour is simply a poor attempt to dodge taking responsibility.

“H&M is such a big company that they don't need to do this. They don't need to use underweight women to have an impact.”

The fashion chain has stores in 53 countries around the world, including 13 stores in Israel, 270 in the US, and some 180 in Sweden. The company opened its first store in Indonesia in October. 

Solveig Rundquist

Follow Solveig on Twitter

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
More rats creep into Sweden's cities
Rats like these are common in Stockholm. Photo: TT

More rats creep into Sweden's cities

Sweden is experiencing a rapid increase in its rat population according to the country's biggest pest control company, which says that the growing trend for outdoor food stalls is partly to blame. READ  

What's On in Sweden
What's On: November 27th - December 4th
A Christmas market in Skåne. Photo: Visit Skåne

What's On: November 27th - December 4th

Northern Sweden's Umeå is fighting the encroaching darkness with a bright pop festival, horses are trotting into town in Stockholm, Gothenburg is celebrating French culture and winter markets are popping up everywhere this week. READ  

'Tinder for jobs' app in discrimination row
Selfiejobs has launched in Stockholm. Photo: Selfiejobs

'Tinder for jobs' app in discrimination row

A smartphone app designed to match young job seekers with potential employers has gained more than ten thousand likes since it launched in Stockholm a week ago. The company is already planning to target other capitals, despite criticism that it promotes discrimination. READ  

'Wild west' taxi drivers face tough new rules
Taxis at Stockholm's Arlanda Airport. Photo: Claudio Brescani/TT

'Wild west' taxi drivers face tough new rules

Stockholm taxis have a reputation for being among the most expensive in the world, but new regulations designed to make costs more transparent have been agreed on by Stockholm's Traffic Committee. READ  

Weather agency rules out white Christmas
Snow covering buildings in Stockholm's Gamla Stan. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Weather agency rules out white Christmas

Swedes hoping for a white Christmas will most likely be disappointed after a global weather agency said that temperatures are unlikely to plummet in December. READ  

Swedish teen pop 'Idol' found dead at home
The late Tristan Björling. Photo: TV4 Press Office

Swedish teen pop 'Idol' found dead at home

The producers of hit Swedish TV show Idol say they are offering support to the family of one this year's contestants, Tristan Björling, who has died. READ  

Sweden most expensive place to send a parcel
A Swedish postbox. Photo: TT

Sweden most expensive place to send a parcel

The price for sending a package via post in Sweden is the highest in the Nordic region but sending a letter remains relatively cheap according to a new report. READ  

Unclear school situation for migrant children
File photo: The Local

Unclear school situation for migrant children

Sweden's National Agency for Education has stated that the current law allowing children of EU citizens the right to a place in school is unclear, as many new arrivals may slip through the net. READ  

Gothenburg to host top international yacht races
The America's Cup draws crowds wherever it is held. Photo: TT

Gothenburg to host top international yacht races

Gothenburg has announced it will be staging qualifying races for 2017 America's Cup - the most prestigious prize in international yachting. READ  

Malmö's Champions League bid ended
Juventus striker Carlos Tevez shakes off Malmö's Markus Halsti during the Italian side's victory on November 26th 2014. Photo:Andreas Hillergren/TT

Malmö's Champions League bid ended

The Swedish champions were defeated by the Italian side Juventus 0-2 at home and will need to win their last Champions League match in order to keep their hopes alive of playing in Europe. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
Five magical Swedish winter markets
Sponsored Article
SIS: the thinking behind globalised learning
Lifestyle
Top ten Swedish Christmas presents
National
'Swedish' street dog becomes global celebrity
Lifestyle
VIDEO: How to stay stylish in Sweden in November
Blog updates

26 November

Is Putin trying to buy up Europe’s nationalists? (Globally Local) »

" Photo: Alexey Druzhinin/AFP Political funding is a murky business at the best of times. If a party..." READ »

 

26 November

Not Pants (Blogweiser) »

" The woman who took the picture above was on her first visit to IKEA. She had just..." READ »

 
 
 
Imagebank Sweden
Society
Decorating your home for Swedish Christmas
Gallery
People-watching: November 26th
Sponsored Article
How to get your own office anywhere in the world
National
'I'm a Swedish 'expat' in my home country'
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Family life in Stockholm
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's 2015 Eurovision hopefuls
Gallery
Property of the week: Rosengården
National
'Racist' Black Pete party scrapped in Sweden
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Christmas gifts through the years
Lifestyle
'I'm spreading Japan's 'cute' culture in Sweden'
National
Ebola: Sweden's leading expert speaks
National
Why this Swedish rabbi is facing death threats
National
Fears up to 300 Swedes fighting with Isis
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish mulled wine
Gallery
People-watching: November 22nd - 23rd
Society
What's on in Sweden: November 20th to 27th
National
How to boost your career in Skåne, Sweden's south
Lifestyle
How an Umeå museum is rewriting Swedish history
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Lifestyle
Five unique backpacker hostels in Stockholm
National
Bones show off Sweden's history
National
What new word are Swedes voting on?
National
Why African Swedes are angry about Santa's helper
National
Pine, tar, and tinder: flavours from the north
Gallery
Selfies, solidarity and Hillary Clinton: Stefan Löfven on tour
Gallery
People-watching: November 19th
Society
Why are international professionals leaving Sweden?
Business & Money
Meet the Swedes who made suits for The Hunger Games
Technology
'I'm among the first Swedes with a microchip'
National
What is Sweden doing about bird flu?
Gallery
Property of the week: Eriksberg
National
Vecka45: Sweden's most innovative week
Gallery
In Pictures: The clubs and loves of Sweden's Sven-Göran Eriksson
Society
What's On in Sweden: November 13th to 20th
Gallery
People-watching: November 16th
National
Driving (expats) home for Christmas?
Lifestyle
Make your own Swedish pea soup
Politics
"Totally unacceptable": Defence Minister on Stockholm submarine
Society
The A-Ö guide to making life in Sweden easier
National
How a Swedish party inspired a masterpiece
National
Seen the new Ace of Base yet?
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

814
jobs available
Swedish Down Town
Consulting & Productions

We are an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish authorities, Swedish language practice, and general communications.
Call 0731 004 781 or visit:
swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business. If you want to stop, we can help.
Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
aa-europe.org/sweden
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply