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August 16, 2022

“4 out of 5 men want Oxfords... in these new Van Heusen styles” – Van Heusen

“4 out of 5 men want Oxfords... in these new Van Heusen styles” – Get it? The man of color is the only one who doesn’t want an Oxford, but he is also the one in the queue depicted as the most primitive of the men. Here, to be Native American is to be uncivilized and tribal, 1952.

Van Heusen surely had a knack for coming up with not just sexist ads but extremely racist ads as well. Here’s another bigoted poster from the 1950s that represented everything wrong and distasteful with American advertisements.

There was no attempt at subtlety with the picture of four white men in collared shirts and neckties and one tribesman adorned with bone ornaments to imply that people of color are naturally primitive and threatening. While the white models talked about the many advantages of an Oxford shirt, from style to comfort, the text under the indigenous man reads, “Rumor has it that even he would gladly swap his boar’s teeth for a Van Heusen Oxford”—insinuating that people of color acknowledge that they lack the sophistication of white people and desire to be better.

The brand that claimed to sell “the world’s smartest” shirts unfortunately also promoted its products through “the world’s most racist and sexist” ads.


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