Inappropriate branding sees Convenience Wear products pulled from shelves nationwide. 

Japanese convenience store chain Family Mart made news on social media last December when it was revealed that stores in Kansai, the region in and around Osaka, had an unusual new range of “Convenience Wear” for sale.

Consisting of everyday essentials like hand towels, socks, basic tees and underwear, people around Japan had their fingers crossed for a nationwide rollout of the new products, some of which were emblazoned with the green-white-and-blue stripes featured in the chain’s logo.

Earlier this month, it was announced that the chain would in fact be expanding sales of the Convenience Wear line nationwide, but while most people had their eyes on the striped items, it was one of the less colourful items that ended up creating headlines.

The collection’s beige-coloured underwear, initially sold in Kansai with “beige” written on the packaging, was found to be sold in packs with “hadairo” written on the front after the national release. Hadairo literally translates to “skin colour” in English, and it’s a shade people in Japan learn to identify from a very young age by way of their coloured pencil collections.

▼ The colour of hadairo.

Image: Wikipedia/湖の国の王子

As the above image shows, hadairo refers to a pale orangey beige colour. However, in recent years, use of this term has been declining due to its racially insensitive nature, as this shade doesn’t accurately represent the colour of all skin tones. So as soon as the new hadairo-branded products landed in stores, Family Mart received complaints from concerned franchises and employees.

As a result of these concerns, Family Mart decided to voluntarily recall all products with “hadairo” printed on them. The products recalled were a camisoletank top, and briefs, all in the women’s range.

▼ This image, from the company’s 23 March press release announcing the nationwide rollout, shows the tank top at the bottom right, with “はだいろ” (hadairo) printed on it.

Image: Family Mart

Family Mart is yet to release a formal apology or explanation as to why the name of the colourway was changed from “beige” to “hadairo”. Though the future of the recalled products remains uncertain, it’s believed they’ll be re-released in the near future under the more appropriate “beige” labelling.

While it’s a shame the incident occurred in the first place, it’s encouraging to see the chain take immediate action to rectify the problem. And with one of Japan’s leading cosmetics companies recently taking action to drop the word “whitening” from their products, it looks like awareness surrounding issues related to racial inequality are steadily growing throughout the country.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Jin
Top image: Wikipedia/Yasu
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