Every holiday season, the Gap rolls out a new campaign that typically creates a lot of buzz, and this year is no different. However, controversy around one photo shows that the Gap is willing to stand up to racism. The theme of the holiday campaign is "make love" and the Gap posted this image in store windows and in outdoor ads.
The two people in the photo are model and filmmaker Quentin Jones and actor and jewelry designer Waris Ahluwalia, who happens to be a Sikh. New York photographer Robert Gerhardt noticed that one of the posters outside a New York City subway had been vandalized. The word "love" in "Make Love-"' was replaced with "Bombs," and "Please stop driving taxis" was also scribbled on the poster. Gerhardt snapped a photo of the defaced ad and forwarded it to Arsalan Iftikhar, senior editor at the "Islamic Monthly."
Iftikhar shared the shameful image on Twitter, and his post quickly went viral. Hundreds retweeted the photo, and one well-known Twitter account-holder even took notice—the Gap. It replied to the tweet, "Hi there. Thanks for informing us. Can you please follow & DM (direct message) us? We'd like to know the location of this." Then the Gap immediately changed its Twitter banner photo to one featuring Jones and Ahluwalia. And the Facebook page "GAP, Thank you for featuring a Sikh model in your 'Make Love' campaign" was born. Instead of negative comments, support for the Gap poured in. One person tweeted, "Hey @Gap I just holiday shopped w/you because of yr anti-racist support of #Sikh model Waris Ahluwalia!" In an article for the Daily Beast after all the uproar, Iftikhar writes "as the year 2014 inches closer to us, I want to live in an America where a fashion model can be a handsome, bearded brown dude in a turban..."