8 Offensive Articles of Clothing

1. These Boots Were Recalled For Creating Swastika Footprints (Yes, Really)

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When fashion items get recalled, it's usually due to a faulty strap on a bag, or, say, a jeweled embellishment on a dress that just won't stay put. (Or, sometimes, a pair of shoes that might impale you.) But we've never seen a recall quite like this before. Boot company Polar Fox has recalled a pair of men's boots from Amazon that leave tiny swastikas in the dirt behind you. Thanks to a customer on Reddit, the boots were exposed in a post that was viewed over 2 million times. Frankly, we're wondering how or why the boots were produced in the first place.

"There was an angle I didn't get to see when ordering my new work boots..." the user wrote. Yeah, we'd say so. A despicable stream of Nazi-themed jokes have ensued on Reddit. Basically, we're pretty certain this is the most serious oversight we've ever seen. The company has tried to rectify the situation by removing the boots from Amazon and issuing a statement to the International Business Times.

“We would like to issue a public apology to our customers and to anyone who was offended by an imprint one of our boots left behind," the statement reads. "This was in no way intentional, it was an obvious mistake made by our manufactures in China...We will not be selling any of our boots with the misprint to anyone. We would never create a design to promote hate. We don’t promote hate at our company.”

In terms of past anti-semitic fashion screw-ups, Zara landed in hot water in 2014 for selling a supposedly Old West-themed kid's shirt featuring a "sheriff's badge" that resembled the Star of David that Jewish people were forced to wear during the Holocaust.

So there you have it, folks. It's 2017 and people are, deplorably, incorporating swastikas into footwear designs. 


2. Urban Outfitters apologizes for its blood-red-stained Kent State sweatshirt

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In 2014, Urban Outfitters sold a “vintage" Kent State sweatshirt decorated with a blood spatter-like pattern that was reminiscent of the 1970 Kent State Massacre that left four people dead.

The shirt sold quickly, but outrage spread. The retailer issued an apology, claiming the patterns were not blood at all, but simply “discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray.” The statement added: “We deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively.”

The shirt popped up on eBay shortly after, with a starting bid of $550. User "kentstatesweater" said of the garment, “I ordered it and am waiting myself, as soon as it arrives, I'll ship it to you. Perfect for Halloween or whatever your deal is,” the description read.


3. Walmart Ditches ‘Bulletproof: Black Lives Matter’ T-Shirt After Police Protest

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 Walmart is dropping the online sale of T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts bearing the message “Bulletproof: Black Lives Matter,” it announced Tuesday night, following a complaint from the country’s largest police organization.

The national Fraternal Order of Police had called the message “offensive” in a letter to the giant retailer earlier that day.

The 325,000-member organization has since issued a similar letter to Amazon complaining about the same products, as well as about shirts and sweatshirts bearing the words “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.”

“Commercializing our differences will not help our local police and communities to build greater trust and respect for one another. Turning a buck on strained relationships will not contribute to the healing process,” FOP President Chuck Canterbury wrote to Walmart CEO C. Douglas McMillon.

Canterbury told McMillon that he was “concerned” that selling the shirts would “damage your company’s good name” among FOP members, as well as among other “active and retired law enforcement officers.”

Shortly afterward, Walmart issued a statement to The Washington Post announcing it was dropping the products because of “customer complaints.” It will continue to sell other products bearing the words “Black Lives Matter.”

“Like other online retailers, we have a marketplace with millions of items offered by third parties that includes Blue Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter merchandise. After hearing concerns from customers, we are removing the specific item with the ‘bulletproof’ reference,” said the statement.

The “Bulletproof” shirts were being sold through the Walmart website by third-party vendor Old Glory Merchandise, which was not immediately available for comment.

On Wednesday, Canterbury sent a similar letter to Amazon and its CEO, Jeffrey Bezos ― who also owns The Washington Post.

“Because I believe you share the FOP’s goal of increasing the bonds of trust between the men and women of law enforcement and the communities they serve, I wanted to let you know that my members are very upset that you and Amazon are complicit in the sale of this very offensive merchandise,” Canterbury wrote to Bezos.

Black Lives Matter merchandise on Amazon’s site comes from several different third-party sellers. Shirts saying “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” were still available on the site Wednesday. “Bulletproof: Black Lives Matter” shirts were not for sale.

Amazon was not immediately available for comment.

The Fraternal Order of Police has clashed frequently with the Black Lives Matter movement, which was born when Trayvon Martin’s killer was acquitted in 2013 and has been fueled by the deaths of other black men at the hands of police. The FOP has claimed that the movement is anti-police and places officers’ lives in danger. Last year it began to push for classifying attacks on police officers as hate crimes.


4. A Zara children's shirt resembles a Nazi concentration camp uniform

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This Wild West-inspired sheriff's T-shirt is an eerie reminder of clothing concentration camp victims wore during WWII.

The shirt, designed for toddlers up to three years old, features raking buttons on the left shoulder with a six-pointed gold badge underneath. While the badge does say "sheriff," social media users cried foul, saying it looked more like the yellow star Jews in Nazi-occupied territories were forced to wear. Combined with stripes also reminiscent of concentration camp garb, the Holocaust link is indeed clear.

Zara pulled the shirt and immediately apologized.


5. Shirt Stop. Complaints led to clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch's pulling a line of T-shirts based on Asian caricatures from their stores.

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After receiving "hundreds and hundreds" of complaints about the shirts (largely from Asian-American college students, who were presumably one of Abercrombie & Fitch's primary target groups for the shirts in the first place) in mid-April, A&F withdrew the items from their stores nationwide and discontinued catalog sales.

Abercrombie & Fitch maintained it had poked fun at other groups (such as women, Irish-Americans, and skiers) in the past, and the current line of T-shirts was merely intended to be humorous and whimsical in that same vein.

Thomas D. Lennox, A&F's senior manager of investor relations and corporate communications, said: "It's not, and never has been, our intention to offend anyone. These graphic T-shirts were designed with the sole purpose of adding humor and levity to our fashion line." And Tom Goulet, manager for customer services at the company's New Albany, Ohio, headquarters, added: "Anyone who buys our clothes knows we don't target any particular race. We pretty much make fun of everybody."

Members of the Asian-American community offered a variety of reasons why they found the shirts offensive:
  • The shirts portray "Asian Americans doing work they have been historically forced to do."
  • The shirts feature outdated "images [seen] in California newspapers a century ago."
  • The shirts use Buddha, a religious icon central to Asian culture, for humorous effect.
  • The shirts employ images that "smack of Charlie Chan and the coolie stereotype."
  • The shirts depict century-old stereotypes of Asians as "kung-fu fighting, fortune-cookie-speaking, slanty-eyed, bucktooth servants."
  • The shirts "trivialize an entire religion and philosophy."
Nonetheless, as the Los Angeles Times reported, not everyone was dismayed by the A&F shirts:
At one Abercrombie & Fitch store in San Francisco on Thursday, sales of the shirts remained brisk and a man who identified himself as a store manager said he had received no word from company headquarters to stop selling the shirts.

"I don't understand what the big problem is," he said. "The first kid to come in and buy these shirts this week had the last name of Wong."

Nearby, people rushed to rummage through shirts that filled a table as though a Kmart blue-light special had just been announced.

When asked if the shirts were selling well, one female clerk responded, "Oh my Lord yes! We don't have any more in back stock. They're jumping off the shelves."
Abercrombie & Fitch probably lost more customers than they gained, however:
. . . to Terry Fung, 25, who first discovered the shirts over the weekend at San Francisco's Stonestown Galleria mall, the shirts felt like a direct attack.

"I was so shocked that I just stood there staring at the shirts for a good two to three minutes,'' said the Chinese-American online marketer. "Now the anger is setting in. I have a few pieces of clothing from Abercrombie. Now I don't want to wear anything from there anymore."


6. Adidas cancels 'shackle' shoes after outcry

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German sports apparel maker Adidas has withdrawn its plans to sell a controversial sneaker featuring affixed rubber shackles after the company generated significant criticism when advertising the shoe on its Facebook page.
The high-top sneakers, dubbed the JS Roundhouse Mids, were expected to be released in August, according to the Adidas Originals Facebook page. "Got a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles?" a caption below a photo of the sneakers read.

The June 14 post prompted plenty of criticism from around the Web, with many commenters saying they felt the shackle invoked the painful image of slavery.

"Wow obviously there was no one of color in the room when the marketing/product team ok'd this," said a commenter, identifying herself as MsRodwell on "nicekicks".

"I literally froze up when I saw a new design from Adidas set to hit stores in August," Dr. Boyce Watkins said in a post for the website Your Black World.

Though dismissing the criticism in a written statement by defending the sneaker's designer, Jeremy Scott, as having a "quirky" and "lighthearted" style, Adidas nonetheless said Monday that it planned to cancel the shoe's release.

"The design of the JS Roundhouse Mid is nothing more than the designer Jeremy Scott's outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery," the statement said. "We apologize if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace."

Scott, for his part, posted a tweet Tuesday saying, "work has always been inspired by cartoons, toys & my childhood." He attached a photo of a "My Pet Monster" -- a bright, plush character with its wrists shackled.

One of Adidas' most high-profile condemnations came from the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

"The attempt to commercialize and make popular more than 200 years of human degradation, where blacks were considered three-fifths human by our Constitution is offensive, appalling and insensitive," he said in a statement Monday, before Adidas' decision to withdraw them from the marketplace.

He said Tuesday that civil rights groups had contacted NBA Commissioner David Stern, asking him to intercede. Jackson said the groups could engage in a boycott in about 50 markets if the shoes went on the sale.

The photo of the sneakers was still in the photo section of Adidas' Facebook page Tuesday morning. And whether Adidas wanted it or not, the sneakers were still inspiring a spirited debate about race in the comment section of its Facebook page.


7. Retailer TJ Maxx pulled a t-shirt that featured a picture of a noose and the slogan 'hang loose.'

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On 16 March 2015, Twitter user @PsychoGF posted a photograph of a t-shirt featuring an image of a noose along with the slogan "hang loose" that was being vended by American department store chain and major clothes retailer TJ Maxx.

The tweet about the shirt stirred outrage on social media and soon prompted a response from TJ Maxx. After receiving some information about where the shirt was being sold (the item pictured above was available at an outlet in Florida), the company issued a statement saying that the shirt was being pulled from all their locations:
"As soon as we became aware of the offensive T-shirt message, we initiated the process to remove this item from our stores and are internally reviewing how we inadvertently purchased the item. We would like to apologize to our customers for any concern this may have caused."

The California beachwear company Tavik also apologized for the offensive design, claiming that the shirt's "hang loose" slogan was related to surfing but failing to explain how the noose was relevant to that carefree theme:
  • "We sincerely apologize for any offense caused by this T-shirt. This item was released without going through proper protocols and is not related to anything other than surfing. We are pulling this item from retailers immediately."


8. What Was Walmart Thinking With These Terribly Offensive T-Shirts?

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Some bad news: that "I'd Rather Be Snorting Cocaine Off a Hooker's Ass" slogan T-shirt you wanted for your birthday is no longer available at Walmart. As first noted by Mashable, that and a whole slew of other offensive men's tees were available on Walmart's website, somewhat undermining the company's wholesome, family-friendly image.

Mashable reached out to Walmart, and the company responded by saying that the shirt "obviously has no business being on our site" and that they are "removing it ASAP." Too late, you'll have to spend your $19.95 elsewhere!

"We apologize to anyone who was offended," a Walmart spokesperson added.

It turns out the shirt wasn't sold directly by Walmart but by a third-party site called Hollywood Thread. When Walmart works with third-party retailers, the spokesperson explained to Mashable, it gives them a detailed list of policies for what they are allowed to sell. Once the item is uploaded onto the site, it goes through a filter that's supposed to flag down any banned words. Except that obviously didn't happen with a number of Hollywood Thread's products. Like these ones.

There's also a "MASTER BAITER" fishing pun (get it?) and an "I <3 BREASTFEEDING" design, for when you're feeling particularly classy. The oversight is particularly noteworthy considering that Walmart famously banned a shirt in 1995 that featured a Dennis the Menace character saying, ""Someday a woman will be PRESIDENT!" Why? Because the concept went against the store's "values" at the time.

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