UPDATE: Jeff White, the cofounder of Andrew Christian, told The Advocate that the images of the model will "immediately" be replaced in response to the complaint. White's full statement:
As you accurately noted in your article our "Master" and "Slave" harnesses and underwear only reference the "Master" and "Slave" terminology of the BDSM culture and has nothing to do with anything else. We sincerely apologize if anyone finds the image of the model offensive and we will replace it immediately.
Andrew Christian is drawing criticism for a "slave" line of men's underwear.
A reader of The Advocate, Gabriel, who withheld his last name due to privacy concerns, flagged the "Slave Net C-Ring Harness" product as "offensive" in a recent email to the retailer. Gabriel took particular issue with a model of color being used to advertise the harness on AndrewChristian.com.
"It's actually tasteless," he wrote in a customer complaint. "I can't understand why you would put a person of color in an outfit that says the word slave." Gabriel asked the company to remove or change the product to avoid a racist association.
Andrew Christian replied to Gabriel Monday. "Thank you for your suggestion! We have passed this along to our production team for review," read the response, which also included a coupon code.
As of the time of this article's publication, the product is still available on the retailer's website. The same model also appears in another set of underwear, "Slave Net Brief w/ Almost Naked."
A product description for the harness references BDSM culture, in which terms like "master" and "slave" pertain to sex, but the model's race, as Gabriel noted, places its name in problematic territory.
"When you climb into our brand new Slave C-Ring Harness, you're stepping into your role as the submissive slave that you are," the description reads. "Let him know that you're here to please in this flattering cut and hot strappy design. Because when you're wearing this, who could resist punishing a naughty slave?"
Andrew Christian is a popular fashion brand with gay men, particularly its lines of underwear and swimwear, which have memorably appeared on RuPaul's Drag Race pit crew members.