The fashion brand Fred Perry has pulled one of its famous polo shirt designs after it became associated with a far-right organisation.
The company has halted sales of the black and yellow top in the US and Canada, after it was adopted by the neo-fascist organisation the Proud Boys.
The company said that although it sought to represent inclusivity and diversity “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.”
Fred Perry was founded in 1952 by the Wimbledon tennis champion of the same name and has been adopted by various subcultures. In the 60s and 70s its polo shirt became associated with the skinhead movement.
But 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,” the label 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 by the Vice magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes in 2016 in the lead-up to Donald Trump’s election as president. McInnes has since distanced himself from the organisation, which publicly insists it is not “alt-right” or white nationalist but has a history of glorifying violence and misogyny.
In 2018 the FBI classified the organisation as an “extremist group”, while the Southern Poverty Law Center lists it as a hate group.
Over the weekend, the Proud Boys organised a pro-Trump rally in Portland. Kate Brown, the Oregon state governor, declared a state of emergency in anticipation of “white supremacist groups” coming from “out of town” but far fewer people than anticipated showed up.