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Soft as women's skin: Russian furniture maker grilled for comparing its leather with different human races

Soft as women's skin: Russian furniture maker grilled for comparing its leather with different human races
"Are they using human skin for their sofas?" online commentators wondered after seeing an ad, in which models of different races were compared to various colors of leather upholstery.

The bizarre collage was posted by Home Collection furniture maker on its Russian VKontakte social network page in January, but only made headlines this week after being discovered by one of the popular Telegram channels.

It featured a group portrait of six models of different skin color paired with samples of leather hide coverings, used by the company for its sofas and armchairs.

Such a questionable creative solution was bound to cause controversy, but commenters were split on who should be offended by the ad and why.

Many rushed to accuse the company of being racist, which was the most obvious thing to do. But those who took a closer look at the collage came to the conclusion that it was actually an affront to the whole of humanity, as all races were featured.

There's no racism here, but the ad is unethical as one might suggest that they use human skin for their sofas.  

Some users mentioned sadistic Nazi criminal, Ilse Koch, who crafted lampshades and purses from this skin of murdered concentration camp inmates – surely not the image that the furniture brand wanted to evoke.

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Animal activists argued that it was "illogical" to complain about the photo, while "being OK with the use of mink and raccoon fur for coats." Others blamed the competitive economy: "It's capitalism, baby… Absolute lack of principles. The only important thing is profit."

Internet sleuths also found out that the photo used in the collage wasn't original. It was first posted on the Empowering Women Now website back in 2018.

"It's not racism, but stupidity," one user asserted, and even the furniture maker behind the ad seemed to agree with this statement.

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The company's spokesperson told Govorit Moskva radio that the divisive post had been taken down, promising to educate the employees responsible so that similar mishaps won't happen again. However, she couldn't respond to the question about the copyright of the photo used in the ad.

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