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ASOS under fire for black model wearing 'slave' T-shirt

Popular fashion retailer ASOS is in hot water after customers called out a controversial image on its website.
/ Source: TODAY

Popular fashion retailer ASOS is in hot water after customers called out a controversial image on its website: a photo of a black model wearing a T-shirt that says "slave."

The shirt was quickly removed, and the company pointed out that it was not an ASOS-branded product, but instead part of the ASOS Marketplace, a separate retail site that features outside designers.

"Marketplace is a collection of independent sellers who must agree to our terms and conditions when they join," ASOS told TODAY in a statement. "Whenever we find product that violates our policies we remove it immediately. There is also a 'report this item' link under every product picture. If you'd like to find out more about what is prohibited, please visit the Marketplace website."

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ASOS does not review products before they're added to the Marketplace, but the company will "act very quickly" to remove sellers' products that violate policy or cause considerable offense, a publicist added.

Still, some angry shoppers were quick to take screen shots of the image in question and post them on social media, alongside accusations of racism. Some called for a boycott of the company.

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The brand that made the shirt, Wasted Heroes, based in Liverpool, England, has not yet returned TODAY's request for comment, but has responded to some critics on social media, explaining that the shirt wasn't intended to be offensive. The word "slave" was referring to being a slave to a fashion label, they explained.

Several versions of the shirt are still available on Wasted Heroes' website.

ASOS is hardly the first fashion retailer to face backlash for controversial designs. Most recently, Old Navy was criticized for a series of toddler T-shirts that appeared to discourage kids from becoming artists, Nordstrom has gotten into trouble for an anti-semitic Hanukkah sweater, and this Argentina brand's use of the Confederate flag has also angered shoppers.