Pharrell Williams has been accused of cultural appropriation after launching a new fashion collection with Adidas inspired by Holi.
The musician has been slammed by Hindus for the ‘Hu Holi’ collection, which is made up of trainers, t-shirts and jackets.
Holi, also known as the ‘festival of colours’, is celebrated in India and throughout the world.
Hindus cover each other in coloured powder to celebrate the beginning of spring.
The collection was criticised by Rajan Zed, President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, who urged Williams and Adidas to apologise and come up with a different name.
Writing on his website, he said: ‘Pharrell Williams and Adidas should have done some homework before taking Hinduism concepts frivolously and using these to make a fashion statement and sell shoes for mercantile greed, some of which contain leather.
‘Inappropriate usage of Hinduism concepts or symbols or imagery for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it might be painful to many devotees.
‘Hindus were for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it hurt many followers.’
Williams and Adidas also came under fire from social media users after a recent trip to India to promote the range.
One person tweeted: ‘Something about Adidas’ new collection screams cultural appropriation… Using our festival to sell a brand, and its shoes on top of it all, which Hindus would easily take offence to and there’s not even an Indian celeb at the face of it.’
Another added: ‘’Exploiting a culture to sell shoes is the literal definition of cultural appropriation. I don’t want to stop buying Adidas shoes. But I will.’
While one said: ‘A European company getting an American musician to market a line of apparel/footwear inspired by an Indian festival. Yuppp, technically, this is cultural appropriation.’
But others stuck up for the singer and claimed it wasn’t a big deal.
One said: ‘Please, people stop reading into everything. I guess we can’t be inspired by anything anymore.’
🍡🍬🍡Adidas Originals & Pharrell Williams 💚💗💛HU HOLI Campaign #adidaspharrellwilliams @addidas_originals @pharrell Photographer – @vivianesassenstudio Photographer Assistant – @hanneke_van_leeuwen Fashion Stylist – @jaymassacret HMU – @irena.ruben Producer – @instadake @shakeproductionsnyc Producer (India) – Bhavna Gupta Patel Production Manager (India) – Amit Otwal & @aasthajain19 . #adidasoriginals #pharrellwilliams #huholi #campaigns #holi #festivals #shakeproductions #oaktreepictures @oaktreepictures #jaipur #India #adidas #color #neon #pastel @adidas
Another posted: ‘I’m getting sick of this whole cultural appropriation shit, why can’t we embrace all cultures?? Why does everything have to be so negative? Pharrell now gotta apologise? Get a grip people.’
An Adidas spokesperson told The Independent: ‘Adidas Originals and Pharrell Williams created Hu as a global platform to inspire positive change.
‘Hu was founded upon the principles of unity, equality, humanity, and colour with an intention to explore humanity and celebrate diversity around the world. Together Adidas Originals and Pharrell Williams use the platform to help tell stories of others from around the globe.’