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anti-semitism

How Not To Sell Clothes That Remind People of Nazis

Lior Zaltzman

Lior Zaltzman

Another week, another oops-we-made-clothing-reminiscent-of-the-Holocaust fiasco.

This time it was the children’s retailer Gymboree, which had been selling a plaid dress with six-pointed star patch suggestive of those that Nazis forced Jews to wear. Over the summer, it was Miu Miu with dresses and jean jackets featuring a similarly offending star, and before that Zara and Urban Outfitters—the latter two being serial offenders in the Nazi imagery department. (Zara had previously sold floral handbags featuring a decorative swastikas, and more recently Urban Outfitters offered a tapestry that looked a whole lot like the uniforms gay men were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps.)

nazi

Lior Zaltzman

There are myriad examples.

There was Sears with the silver rings emblazoned with swastikas, Walmart with the Nazi skull logo tees, Marc Jacobs with shirts bearing more than a passing resemblance to imagery used by a neo-Nazi rock band, and a Teespring vendor with items purporting to “reclaim” the swastika as a symbol of peace and love. (That went over as well as you’d expect.)

Oh, and in 2002, Umbro came out with a pair of Xyklon-branded cross-trainers. Yes, sneakers bearing the same name as the gas that the Nazis used to exterminate Jews.

Most of these incidents have come with good-faith apologies and explanations, as well as efforts to remove swiftly the offending items from the marketplace. It was all an unfortunate coincidence, we’re told. It was inspired by a sheriff’s badge (heard that one before?) or an ancient Hindu symbol.

star of david

Lior Zaltzman

But really, enough is enough. Which is why I’ve compiled some basic rules for retailers who want to avoid selling what looks or sounds like Nazi garb (and the hurt feelings, bad press and mea culpas that come with it).

1. No six-pointed star patches. Even if they say “Sheriff.” Even if they say “Bob.” Especially if they’re yellow. Even if they’re not.

2. No swastikas. No exceptions.

3. Don’t name your gear after gas-chamber gas. Ever.

4. Check out the ADL’s online Hate on Display — Hate Symbols Database. The imagery featured there doesn’t belong on your clothing. (Hi, Walmart.)

5. And read this primer on how the Nazis used to symbols to classify prisoners in concentration camps. Use of these emblems are offensive—all the more so when juxtaposed against stripes. (I’m looking at you, Zara!)

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