In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, fashion brand Fred Perry has come out and made a political statement of its own, showing solidarity with the movement. According to The Guardian, the brand has withdrawn one of its famous polo shirt designs after it became associated with a far-right organisation.
A US-based neo fascist group called ‘Proud Boys’ had come to adopt the brand’s black and yellow shirts, and in keeping with the current sentiment for a hate-free and inclusive world, the company has halted its sales in the US and in Canada.
In a statement posted on its website, Fred Perry said it “does not support and is in no way affiliated with the Proud Boys”, and that it is “incredibly frustrating that this group has appropriated” the “Black/Yellow/Yellow twin tipped shirt and subverted our Laurel Wreath to their own ends”.
“The Fred Perry shirt is a piece of British subcultural uniform, adopted by various groups of people who recognise their own values in what it stands for. We are proud of its lineage and what the Laurel Wreath has represented for over 65 years: inclusivity, diversity and independence. The Black/Yellow/Yellow twin tipped shirt has been an important part of that uniform since its introduction in the late 70s, and has been adopted generation after generation by various subcultures, without prejudice,” the statement read.
The brand further shared in the statement that despite its lineage, the shirt “is taking on a new and very different meaning in North America as a result of its association with the Proud Boys”. And that this association is something that must end.
“We therefore made the decision to stop selling the Black/Yellow/Yellow twin tipped shirt in the US from September 2019, and we will not sell it there or in Canada again until we’re satisfied that its association with the Proud Boys has ended.”
Fred Perry does not support and is in no way affiliated with the Proud Boys. Read our statement here.
— Fred Perry (@fredperry) September 25, 2020
It went on to state that if we see any “Proud Boys materials or products featuring the Laurel Wreath or any Black/Yellow/Yellow related items”, the brand will have “absolutely nothing” to do with it, and that it is working with lawyers to “pursue any unlawful use”.
About the brand
The outlet reports that the brand ‘Fred Perry’ was founded in 1952 by the Wimbledon tennis champion of the same name, and has since been adopted by various subcultures. In fact in the 60s and 70s, its polo shirt got associated with the ‘skinhead movement’. In its defense, however, the brand has repeatedly taken a stand and spoken out against its use by far-right groups.
In its recent statement, it said that it cannot put its disapproval in better words than those of its chairman John Flynn who, when questioned in 2017, had said: “Fred was the son of a working class socialist MP who became a world tennis champion at a time when tennis was an elitist sport. He started a business with a Jewish businessman from Eastern Europe. It’s a shame we even have to answer questions like this. No, we don’t support the ideals or the group that you speak of. It is counter to our beliefs and the people we work with.”
About Proud Boys
The Proud Boys is a far-right, neo-fascist group that admits only men as members and promotes political violence. While it is based in the US, it has members in Australia, Canada and even the United Kingdom.
It is said that the group was first created as a joke by the Vice magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes in 2016 in the lead-up to Donald Trump’s election as POTUS, The Guardian reports. McInnes has since distanced himself from the group, which openly insists that while it is not alt-right or white nationalist, it does have a history of glorifying violence and misogyny.
The organisation was even classified as an “extremist group” by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2018.
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