The high street clothing retailer Zara has removed an advertising campaign from its website and social media channels after criticism online that it resembled images of destruction in Gaza.
The Inditex-owned fast fashion brand said it regretted a “misunderstanding” about the images.
“Unfortunately, some customers felt offended by these images, which have now been removed, and saw in them something far from what was intended when they were created,” Zara said in a statement posted on its Instagram account.
It said the idea for images was conceived in July and they were photographed in September, prior to the start of the Israel-Gaza war on 7 October.
The campaign, shot by the photographer Tim Walker, featured a series of images of the model Kristen McMenamy in a setting that Zara says was supposed to resemble a sculptor’s studio.
In one image McMenamy holds a mannequin wrapped in white material over her right shoulder. In the background of other pictures there are damaged statues and broken plasterboard.
Zara said the campaign presented “a series of images of unfinished sculptures in a sculptor’s studio and was created with the sole purpose of showcasing craftmade garments in an artistic context”.
However, many social media users criticised the retailer for running the campaign and on Monday the hashtag #BoycottZara was trending on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
“They are making fun of us and they are making fun of children who have been killed and our houses which have been destroyed,” claimed one user in a post.
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority said it had received 110 complaints that the imagery referenced the current Israel-Gaza conflict and was offensive. The watchdog said it was reviewing the complaints but was not currently investigating the ad.
Last month, M&S apologised after being accused of posting an Instagram photo of Christmas party hats in the colours of the Palestinian flag on fire.
The image, taken from the brand’s Christmas advert filmed in August, showed red, green and silver paper hats burning in a fireplace. The company said its intent was to “playfully show that some people don’t enjoy wearing paper Christmas hats”.
However, following criticism from social media users, it removed the post and issued a statement saying: “We apologise for any unintentional hurt caused.”