British fashion brand Fred Perry has pulled one of its most famous polo shirt designs after it became associated with the neo-fascist organisation the Proud Boys.
The company halted sales of its black and yellow top in North America, after the far-right group adopted it.
In a statement posted to its website, Fred Perry said it was “incredibly frustrating” to see the polo shirt and its famous laurel wreath co-opted by the Proud Boys.
Despite seeking to represent inclusivity, the company said, ““we have seen that the black/yellow/yellow twin tipped shirt is taking on a new and very different meaning in North America as a result of its association with the Proud Boys. That association is something we must do our best to end.”
The statement continued: “To be absolutely clear, if you see any Proud Boys material or products featuring our laurel wreath or any black/yellow/yellow related items, they have absolutely nothing to do with us, and we are working with our lawyers to pursue any unlawful use of our brand.”
‘Counter to our beliefs’
Although the polo shirt became associated with the skinhead movement in the 60s and 70s, the brand has repeatedly spoken out against its use by far-right groups.
“Frankly we can’t put our disapproval in better words than our chairman [John Flynn] did when questioned in 2017,” Fred Perry said in its statement.
“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.”
The Proud Boys were created in the run-up to Donald Trump’s election as president in 2016 by Gavin McInnes, the co-founder of Vice magazine. He has since distanced himself from the group, which has a history of glorifying misogyny and violence.
It is listed but the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, and as an “extremist group” by the FBI.
The Proud Boys staged a pro-Trump rally in Portland over the weekend, forcing the Oregon state governor to declare a state of emergency in anticipation of “white supremacist groups” arriving from “out of town”.