Blog: Michelle RussellZara under fire over "Holocaust" T-shirt

Michelle Russell | 28 August 2014

Inditex-owned fast fashion chain Zara has gone and done it again.

First the Spanish retailer produces a handbag carrying a swastika logo. Now it's a children's striped T-shirt complete with a six-pointed yellow badge that bears a strong resemblance to the Star of David, worn by Jews during the Holocaust.

How do retailers get it so wrong?

Zara has had to confront a wave of criticism this week after a blog pointed out the gaffe on social media. But the company is not alone in having produced questionable garments.

Sportswear brand Umbro was forced to apologise in 2002 for naming a shoe Zyklon, the gas used in concentration camps. Adidas also had to apologise for a trainer that featured slave-like shackles.

Inditex was quick to apologise for any offence caused, which was surely not intended, and reiterated its "utmost respect for all cultures and religions". It added that the design was meant to be a Wild West-inspired sheriff's badge.

But for a fast-fashion chain such as Zara, it is differentiation that sets it apart from others. And Zara prides itself on coming up with creative designs in a timely manner. It is this strategy that has meant Inditex was able to reveal earnings of EUR406m (US$549.5m) in its first-quarter. And also thanks to its tight cost control.

This production speed, which translates into a two-week turnaround from design to potential sale, may go some way to explaining why occasionally, an item such as the "Holocaust" T-shirt might slip the net.

Sectors: Apparel, Manufacturing

Companies: Umbro, Zara, Inditex

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