Blog: Leonie BarrieWill they never learn?

Leonie Barrie | 13 August 2003

Clothing that crosses the line of generally accepted standards of decency is a surprisingly common occurrence. The most recent to overstep the mark is Hong Kong based fashion chain Izzue, which has been forced to withdraw a new line of clothes printed with swastikas and other Nazi party symbols.

Other retailers who should also have known better are Sears, Roebuck & Co, which removed from sale a T-shirt range featuring slogans that mocked mental illness (also stocked by Wal-Mart Stores, Kmart, Kohl's and Target Corp); Abercrombie & Fitch, which was slammed by protestors over garments that poked fun at Asians; and Target, whose teen line featured an 88 symbol claimed to be a clandestine Neo-Nazi motif. Sportswear maker Umbro incurred the wrath of Jewish groups after naming a running shoe Zyklon – used to gas Jews during the Second World War

Surely it’s common sense for retailers and brands, particularly at the high fashion edge, to have a complete grasp of trends, apparel symbolism, value and quality so that they are not caught out by something that is socially taboo? But so many mistakes suggest that someone, somewhere isn’t doing the necessary research.

Or maybe it’s got to the stage where the bottom line comes first, with ethics taking a back seat to profits? How sad if that were true. The cynics out there might just agree with the maxim that “there's no such thing as bad publicity.”

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