When you run the world’s largest online marketplace with millions upon millions of items, tasteless, even brashly offensive merchandise is bound to make its way onto the site. For Amazon (AMZN), this means an endless game of whack-a-mole.
The latest series of problematic apparel is a collection of leggings and hot pants covered with depictions of Hindu deities sold through a third party dealer called Yizzam. Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, lodged a complaint with Amazon that 11 pairs of Yizzam’s leggings with images of Hindu gods like Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu and Muruga were blatantly disrespectful of Hindu practices.
“Hindu gods and goddesses are meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines,” Mr. Zed told Betabeat in an email, “not to be worn around one’s legs, crotch and hips.”
When we reached out to Amazon for comment on Tuesday, we received no response. By late evening, the offending items were removed from the store.
This isn’t the first time Mr. Zed has taken Amazon to task for selling leggings with Hindu-inspired prints. In January, Amazon took down items like “Ganesha’s Dream Hot Pant” (“These hot pants are sizzlin ;),” said one reviewer) after Mr. Zed petitioned Amazon to stop selling them.
Taking down items one by one only as enough people get upset isn’t an impressive institutional policy, but at least it’s more decent than Urban Outfitter’s response to the blowback from their infamous Kent State sweater, which was to pretend like they didn’t know exactly what they were doing. Mr. Zed thinks a better policy would be sensitivity training for Amazon’s senior executives.
“We are willing to help, if asked,” he said.
Still, this is obviously a case of Amazon dodging a single controversy instead of making a meaningful policy change — a point made perfectly clear by the fact that Yizzam still sells “Madonna and Jesus” colored jumpsuits and leggings with Jesus on the thighs.