Forever21 apologises to Gurmit Singh's daughter over offensive music

Gurmit Singh's wife Melissa has come out to defend her daughter Gabrielle's open letter to Forever21, in which she had slammed the fashion retailer for playing songs with lurid lyrics in the store. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE
Gurmit Singh's wife Melissa has come out to defend her daughter Gabrielle's open letter to Forever21, in which she had slammed the fashion retailer for playing songs with lurid lyrics in the store. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

SINGAPORE - Fashion retailer Forever21 has apologised to actor Gurmit Singh's daughter, Gabrielle, after an open letter she wrote criticising the music played at one of its outlets went viral online.

According to an update on the 17-year-old's Tumblr blog on Wednesday night, Forever21 apologised for the music, which she had described as "horribly misogynistic" and "damaging" to the women and young girls who frequent the American brand's stores.

She wrote: "F21 has responded and apologised for the music, which is pretty great! However, misogyny as a common occurrence in our everyday lives is still a big issue, which is why I'm leaving this post on my blog."

Her father, local celebrity Gurmit Singh, also took down one of his Facebook posts of the incident at about 10pm on Wednesday night, explaining that they had managed to get in touch with the store's manager.

In her original post about a week ago, Gabrielle recounted how while she was shopping with her mother and baby sister at the Forever21 outlet in 313@Somerset on Orchard Road, the store was "blaring" songs with lyrics that were derogatory to women, such as "half you b***hes like p***y too".

She added that this was unacceptable given Forever21's stores' target audience.

"You guys are a brand that caters to women. You are a store that 13-year-old girls frequent. You are a store that women can bring their children to," she wrote.

The Straits Times understands that the Media Development Authority (MDA) does not regulate the playing of music at retail outlets and shopping malls.

However, according to its guidelines, free-to-air radio broadcasters must ensure that songs played do not contain "vulgar" lyrics or promote "wrong" moral values and lifestyles.

Some retailers like Wing Tai and Club 21 said that the music played in their stores is determined by playlists provided by the brands' head offices.

"The music playlist and selection are supplied and advised by our respective brand principals on a regular basis in accordance to their brand identity," said a spokesman for Wing Tai Retail, which markets brands such as Topshop, G2000 and Fox here. "Depending on the brands' DNA, the music list may vary from current hits to indie music and so forth."

Club 21, which sells brands like Emporio Armani and DKNY here, said that the music is meant to provide a "pleasant" shopping environment. Said a spokesman: "We do, on our end, ensure that music selection is socially-appropriate and have not had any issues with the provided music so far."

As of Thursday, Gabrielle's blog post has garnered more than 400 notes and was reblogged more than 400 times, with many netizens supporting her letter.

An online poll by The Straits Times also saw close to 75 per cent of readers supporting her action.

yeosamjo@sph.com.sg