British apparel-maker Fred Perry has pulled a polo shirt from the US market after it became associated with the far-right group the Proud Boys.
Fred Perry said in a statement last week that it stopped selling one of its signature black and yellow shirts in the US a year ago because it had become popular among members of the group.
“Despite its lineage, 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 brand said in its statement.
It said sales of the shirt won’t resume in the United States or Canada “until we’re satisfied that its association with the Proud Boys has ended.”
The Proud Boys have been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Founded in 2016, the group is known for its anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric, according to SPLC.
Fred Perry said it “does not support and is in no way affiliated with the Proud Boys,” adding that it was “incredibly frustrating” that the group had adopted its shirt and “subverted” its laurel wreath logo “to their own ends.”
The company described its classic shirts and logo as “a piece of British subcultural uniform” that should represent “inclusivity, diversity and independence.”
“To be absolutely clear, if you see any Proud Boys materials 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,” the company said.
Fred Perry is owned by Japan’s Hit Union. According to company filings, 70% of its sales were made in Europe in 2019.
John Flynn, the chairman of Fred Perry, said in 2017 that the brand still champions the values of founder Fred Perry, a former Wimbledon winner.
“Fred was the son of a working class socialist (member of parliament) 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,” Flynn said at the time.
“No, we don’t support the ideals or the (Proud Boys). It is counter to our beliefs and the people we work with,” he added.