How A Swastika Shirt From A Skate Label Ended Up In Discount Stores

November 21, 2017

Business of Fashion has a fascinating read on how a shirt made by skate company Airwalk ended up in a Ross Dress For Less. Despite the lede, it isn’t about some insidious fascist plot, but rather about how the mass manufacturing and distribution models of modern fashion outlets can lead to such a blatant oversight in quality control.

Per the article:

Several layers of quality control are supposed to catch such items before they hit store racks. Many retailers hire auditors to visit factories and inspect the goods; their buyers often host apparel-makers, too, searching through designs to pick out what they want to stock in their stores. Off-price retailers such as Ross, however, often buy from brands and therefore aren’t involved in the production process, although they will also order some merchandise manufactured just for them.

The items they pick must then pass through random audits while being transported to warehouses or distribution centers. Final checks are performed in stores, when associates unbox clothes and hang them on racks.

Yet accidental Nazi imagery isn’t uncommon in retail, and the swastika—a sacred religious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism long before the Nazis hijacked it—pops up regularly.

It’s an interesting insight into just how hand’s off some clothing manufacturing has become, with the various parties barely communicating, much less meeting, to discuss an end product. Admittedly, in this scenario it seems it was a misprint of Airwalk’s “Ollie Man” logo as opposed to something more malicious, but still the lackadaisical control and byzantine production line shows how difficult it is to pin down exactly where it went wrong.

You can read the article here. And always remember, kids, double check any micro-print for Nazi symbols (a PSA that seems ridiculous to write, but, well, it’s 2017).