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Raw Mango faces backlash for “Zooni” campaign

today Oct 4, 2019
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Designer Sanjay Garg’s brand Raw Mango has faced public backlash to its latest campaign “Zooni”, photographed in Kashmir. The brand has removed the campaign images to a mixed response. 

Raw Mango’s recalled “Zooni” campaign faced backlash on Instagram - Raw Mango- Facebook

Raw Mango released its Zooni festive 2019 collection campaign on Wednesday and then removed all images relating to it due to a public outcry over its Kashmiri theme. The campaign images, photographed by Avani Rai, feature a Kashmiri bride and were published on Instagram on October 2. The campaign was recalled the same evening due to “public sentiment,” Raw Mango explained in a subsequent Instagram post on October 3. 

“At Raw Mango our process of design requires a two year lead time, from research to stores,” read Raw Mango’s Instagram post on Thursday, accompanied by a monochrome photo of Kashmir.

“In November 2017, our design team began research and textile development for ‘Zooni’, a collection drawing from Kashmir… In May 2019 we began to explore campaign directions for Zooni… The shoot was executed from June 27 to July 2, 2019.”

The statement explains that the campaign was originally scheduled to release on August 8 but it was postponed due to the “political and social climate surrounding the region”.  The brand also stated that Rai had requested that the launch be further postponed but Raw Mango has chosen to go ahead with the launch. Rai had also requested the photos be taken down from Instagram, according to Raw Mango. 

Comments on Raw Mango’s statement are mixed. Some comments highlight the fact that the campaign features a woman getting married but many weddings in Kashmir have been called off due to the lockdown and others mention that, as the internet is currently cut off in Kashmir, those in the region cannot see the campaign. Many commenters have described the campaign as “cultural appropriation” as the brand is not from Kashmir. The Economist described the current situation in Kashmir as “a vast open-air detention centre,” on October 4.

Other comments express love and support for the brand and thanks for listening to public opinion. The event shows the changing climate, brands will be held accountable on social media by the public and, if the court of public opinion votes against it, the brand could face real consequences. 

Raw Mango was launched by Sanjay Garg in 2008. The brand recently held its second US pop-up tour this year, the brand took a selection of textiles, sarees, and garments to San Jose, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Oak Brook in partnership with Mother of Two. The brand also held a pop-up in Raipur for its “Bageecha” collection last month.