Harvey Nichols accused of sexism over London store sign
A Harvey Nichols tongue-in-cheek sign directing shoppers downstairs for men’s footwear and clothing at its Knightsbridge store has sparked controversy on social media, with one person accusing the luxury department store of having ‘double standards’.
The sign, displayed outside Harvey Nichols store on Sloane Street, reads ‘Great men go down’. The dispute started when London-based writer Rob McGibbon tweeted a picture of the sign, branding it "lewd and offensive".
He wrote on Twitter: “I have asked Harvey Nichols to take down its lewd and offensive poster. The anti-sexism debate must work both ways. It's not the double entendre that irks me, it's the double standard and casual hypocrisy. Eggshells for all.”
The tweet has been liked almost 360 times and generated 115 comments. While some users agreed with McGibbon that a similar joke made about women would be considered offensive, others defended the sign, saying it was just humour.
Commenting on the correctness of the sign, a Harvey Nichols spokesman said: "The signage was designed to direct customers down to our menswear department which occupies the lower two floors of our Knightsbridge store.
"The copy used makes light of the location of the department. On the whole, we have received positive reactions from customers, with many people viewing it in the light-hearted manner it was intended. However, we recognise that our signature tongue-in-cheek humour may not be to everyone's tastes."
Harvey Nichols revamped its menswear department in 2016, creating a new shopping destination over 28,000 sq ft of space. The concept hosts installations, pop-ups, a men’s barber and a contemporary Basement Bar + Kitchen.
The reaction to the sign reflects a social media-driven world in which consumers can both praise and criticise businesses (and frequently do) from wherever they are in the world, even if they haven't seen the offending sign/ad/image.
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