Zara pulls skirt featuring alt-right meme motif
Spanish retail giant Zara has courted controversy with its designs in the past, and may be facing yet another round of criticism thanks to a new skirt design. The international retailer is now selling a denim skirt embellished with a frog image that appears similar to controversial meme Pepe the Frog.
Fashion and music writer Meagan Fredette posted an image of the denim skirt on Twitter, asking if the company could really be unaware of the frog’s implications. “They are trying to be edgy here, without caring about the very real implications of their design. Flirting with racial controversy is not a good business tactic,” Fredette told Dazed.
Matt Furie created Pepe the Frog in 2005, but what started as a harmless online meme has become associated with white supremacy and anti-Semitism, leading the Anti-Defamation League to declare Pepe the Frog a hate symbol last year. The ADL notes that not all images of the frog are considered hateful, but many have been appropriated to look like Adolf Hitler or members of the Ku Klux Klan. The image has also become associated with supporters of Donald Trump’s; alt-right leader and white supremacist Richard Spencer wore a Pepe pin when he was captured on film being punched in the face by an anti-Trump protestor.
The Spanish retailer has been accused of discriminating against black customers in the past, and was widely criticized for selling a children’s shirt many said resembled Holocaust concentration camp uniforms. Fashion brands have also repeatedly accused Zara of directly copying their designs.
The denim skirt shows two frogs wearing sunglasses, which resemble Pepe’s “Not Good Man,” and “Feels Bad Man” forms. Variations of the frog became a mainstream Internet meme by 2015, but in 2016 Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign claimed the frog had been appropriated by white supremacists and supporters of Donald Trump. The Trump campaign embraced the association with the meme, with Trump himself even sharing images of Pepe dressed as him on Twitter.
Zara has yet to comment on the skirt or its potential similarity to the frog, but has removed the offending article from its e-store.
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