LGBTQ brand included in Target collection blames ‘domestic terrorists’ for item removal
One of the brands behind Target’s disastrous Pride collection has blamed “domestic terrorists” for some of its products being pulled from the retailer’s stores.
Amid backlash following the company’s marketing campaign, which included “slip-in-friendly” swimwear for women, several Ash+Chess products have been pulled from shelves.
“We are saddened to say that the majority of our collection has been removed from Target stores due to domestic terrorist threats,” the company said.
The move comes as Target reportedly lost more than $9 billion in market value due to the fallout from its LGBTQ-themed product release.
Ash+Chess items in Target include a variety of LGBTQ-themed clothing and greeting cards
Target’s Pride swimsuits include a label advertising its “pleat-friendly construction” and “extra crotch” coverage
The New York-based retailer says on its website that it is “run by gay and transgender people,” denouncing the dire consequences of its LGBTQ-inspired garments appearing on shelves across America.
“Emotionally, we do not currently have the bandwidth to comment further on this,” the company said in its statement.
“We appreciate your support and love. Queer and trans people exist in the past, present and future, and together we are stronger. We love you all.’
Pride-themed Ash + Chess items released by Target included a variety of rainbow-embellished clothing, as well as posters, calendars, and cards.
Target confirmed it was withdrawing some of the controversial items on Wednesday in an effort to soften the “Bud Light” style boycott that is currently devastating its bottom line.
Faced with mounting pressure to respond to the criticism, the company began receiving “emergency calls” seeking a solution.
The New York-based brand said it was “saddened” that its products had been pulled from stores
Target has long been publicizing its support for the LGBTQ community, spending $20 million in 2016 to add private, gender-neutral bathrooms to each of its stores
Target’s controversial product line included several books that offended some customers
Target has lost more than $9 billion due to the fallout from the rollout of its LGBTQ products
Target CEO Brian Cornell said he believes the marketing
And in a statement released this week, Target said it pulled some items that were “at the center of the most confrontational behavior.”
“Since the introduction of this year’s collection, we have faced threats that affect our team members’ sense of safety and well-being at work,” Target said in a statement.
“Given these volatile conditions, we are adjusting our plans, including removing items that were central to the most significant confrontation behavior,” said crisis communications manager Kayla Castaneda.
In addition to the Ash+Chess items, there were other LGBTQ-inspired pieces, including an adult lime green bodysuit with the word “gay” on the back, and a mug with a label that read “Gender Fluid.”
Target has publicly supported Pride events every year since 2013, and in the face of financially devastating boycotts, the CEO doubled down on the unpopular release.
CEO Brian Cornell told Fortune’s Leadership Next podcast that he believed the campaign would pay off in the long run.
“I think these are just good business decisions, and it’s the right thing for society, and it’s the best thing for our brand,” Cornell said.
“The things we’ve done from a DE&I standpoint (diversity, equity and inclusion), it’s adding value.
“It helps us drive sales, it builds greater engagement with both our teams and our guests, which are just the right things for our business today.”
Ash+Chess says it’s “run by gays and transgenders,” with items often emblazoned with pro-LGBTQ print
Target said it decided to remove the items from shelves because they were “at the center of the most confrontational behavior”
In 2014, Target publicly endorsed marriage equality and the following year announced it was ending their policy of dividing certain products, such as toys, by gender.
Target also introduced a gender-neutral line for kids, announcing in April 2016 — amid a nationwide debate over bathroom access — that transgender people were free to use any bathroom they wanted.
A backlash ensued, and Target spent $20 million in August 2016 to add private bathrooms to each of its stores.
Target is the latest multibillion-dollar company to face criticism for its marketing, and Adidas also came under fire after using two biological men to advertise a range of women’s swimwear.