Fascist Fashion: Forever a Faux Pas

As fashion can be a strong form of expression, it is oftentimes associated with culture, counterculture, social commentary, even politics. The clothes we wear can act as windows into our belief systems, views and values, whether or not we are conscious of it when dressing daily. It tells our peers, to some degree, what we deem wrong and right, with whom we identify and what our professional goals are. Some expressions are less subtle than others—graphic tees, for instance, can be quite blatant, with clear-cut messages splashed across the wearer’s chest like bumper stickers on another’s station wagon.

Much like freedom of speech, we possess every right to wear what we want and garment companies likewise possess the right to produce whatever they want, thus making it easier for us to find and wear whatever loaded products might appeal to us. At a certain point, though, before wearing something one must ask, “Is this okay?” and, in the case of a particularly politically charged product created and sold by the popular everyman’s brand, ZARA, I feel that I speak for the masses (or, at least, I sincerely hope I do) when I say, “No, this is not okay.”

The previously Louisa-loved ZARA, with which I became smitten when residing above a certain store location in Madrid, has gone too far in decorating a boho-inspired tote with Nazi swastikas. Aside from the evident irony (the ideals that accompany the bohemian style are of peace-making and love-spreading, far from the superiority complex and genocide tactics of the Third Reich), the accessory is ridden with offensive concepts and an appalling amount of ignorance. It’s shocking enough that the Spanish company thought such a statement was acceptable, but are the brains behind ZARA so shortsighted that this was thought to be a good business decision? Obviously, the presence of swastikas isolates a giant sector of ZARA’s customer base (ZARA products have been historically popular in Israel), but, what’s more, the company may very well drive away an additional, less apparent population made up simply of rationally-thinking, value-driven individuals, religious beliefs aside.

Since the release of the bag (and the subsequent backlash against it), ZARA has said that the bag was outsourced to an external supplier and that the swastikas were not present at the time of selection. "Had the symbol been seen we would not have sourced that particular handbag," said ZARA spokesperson Susan Suett. ZARA has now withdrawn the bag from sales floors. Nevertheless, despite the claim that this particular misstep was a mistake, it is certainly not an isolated incident when it comes to seeming anti-Semitism from the brand: In an attempt to “respond” to tension in the Middle East, ZARA had previously removed the Israeli flag from the long list of international graphics displayed on their product labels (whenever a ZARA store opens in a new country, that country’s flag is added to the ZARA price tag). As if feigning disassociation would accomplish something productive…?

As far as this swastika situation being a supposed accident, you will, of course, have to form your own opinion, but I’m perfectly clear on mine. I urge all moral consumers to join me in taking a stand against this fascist fashion house: Boycott ZARA. Let them know that no amount of aesthetic can disguise what a symbol like the swastika represents; whether the tags remain on or are pulled off our garments, and whether or not there are visible swastikas on our totes, we will not be fooled into sporting the hateful, vile messages that the ZARA label now represents. I, for one, will not think twice about walking straight past all ZARA stores from here on out, as sad as it makes me to do so. And, while our individual gestures may seem small, in this case, the message sent by the clothes we do not wear will be exceptionally strong.


Anonymous said...



Marc said...

I know i should be appalled but I'm not. I don't think that a swastika should automatically equate to Nazi symbol. It wasn't before the rain of Hitler, and should be able to retain its original meaning. I wish that as jews we could take over the symbol and destroy it of it's meaning. I wish we could all wear swastikas and show them that their symbol of hate is not really a symbol of hate and just a normal image that can you worn or used by any person for any reason. Let fashion reign?

Ali said...

Um I'm not an expert on this but isn't that symbol a traditional hindu symbol of wealth and the Nazis took it and reversed it? Kind of takes the steam out of your argument. Regarding removing the Israeli flag, I do not know the full facts of this action but avoiding getting involved in this political hot potato does not an anti-Semite make. A person can disagree with a government's policies without hating it's people.