Ikea’s release of its widely anticipated yearly catalog was stalled as the company removed a potentially offensive photograph showing a Black man trying to assemble furniture while wearing a shirt that, to some, resembled an inmate’s uniform, according to a report confirmed by FOX Business.
Ikea delayed publishing the print version of its 2021 catalog – of which more than 200 million copies are reportedly printed each year – because of one photo from the nearly 300 pages of products. The catalog was originally set to be released in August, Quartz was first to report.
The image shows the Black man wearing a splint on his finger and a cast on his leg while positioned near a coffee table in need of assembly, Quartz reported. But the shirt he was wearing, which was reportedly emblazoned with the numbers "45678," raised eyebrows, the company said.
"After distributing the 2021 catalog internally, we discovered an image that could be misinterpreted," an Ikea U.S. spokesperson said in an email to FOX Business on Monday. "As a purpose-led organization where diversity and inclusion are core values, IKEA strives to be a force for positive change in society. An important part of advocating for change is acknowledging and taking action when we get it wrong. We are committed to doing so in an open and transparent way."
The company considered its options and decided not to reprint its U.S. catalog, but instead to remove the image from the printed version of the catalog, which will be available later this year in stores, the spokesperson said. The catalog’s online version went live on Monday.
According to the spokesperson, the photo was on page 133 and was meant to portray the use of the company's assembly service through TaskRabbit.
"The black model in the ad was wearing a black shirt with white numbers on the back. The clothes were chosen only for the visual impression of the image and the numbers were intended only as a design detail," the company said. "We understand that the image can be interpreted as reinforcing negative racial stereotypes, and our partners in Global reshot the image in a more appropriate setting.