After international fashion chain Zara was raked over the coals earlier this year for a shirt with a yellow Star of David badge on its left breast, Jewish-owned, Barcelona-based fashion chain Mango came under scrutiny this week for selling a blouse sporting a lighting-bolt motif.
While lightning bolts are not as strongly associated with Nazism and the Holocaust as yellow stars — an argument could be made that the shirt, labelled as “the total look,” is actually meant to evoke Harry Potter — the Twitterverse was quick to point out that the shape of the bolts closely resembled the SS insignia.
With a price tag of EUR 35.99 (around $46 or a whopping NIS 171), the shirt caught the attention of Bild social media manager Jakob Wais, who tweeted a link to it on the Mango website along with the caption, “You might want to rethink this blouse,” with one Twitter user chastising Wais for fixating on “little hipster thunderbolts” and others pointing out the resemblance between the lightning bolt motif and the shape of the scar famously gracing wizarding prodigy Potter’s forehead.
According to Israeli daily Haaretz, other consumers dubbed the blouse “the SS shirt,” “the Eva Braun Collection” or simply “Nazi chic.” Some drew links between the name of the shirt, which features the German word for lightning, ‘blitz,’ and the Nazis’ ‘blitzkrieg,’ or ‘lightning war,’ speed warfare tactic.
German Party head and satirist Martin Sonnenborn, meanwhile, reportedly posted a picture of the blouse on his Facebook page and asked, “Why does Mango market this shirt only to women? There are also male Nazis.”
— Jakob Wais (@ich_Wais) October 16, 2014
Earlier this year, Zara angered consumers by offering an NIS 80 ($23) children’s white shirt that featured dark horizontal stripes — and a fetching yellow Star of David badge on its left breast.
It was called the “sheriff,” and a closer look revealed that the word was indeed lightly etched upon the yellow badge.
On social media giant Reddit, one commenter wrote, “it looks like the uniform jewish people were forced [to wear] during the holocaust. probably not intentional but a very clumsy move, especially for an European firm.” Another bluntly said, “Idiot…someone obviously didn’t pay attention in school.”
Due to public pressure, the shirt was removed from the chain’s UK stores. Israeli business daily Globes reported that Zara had removed the sheriff shirt stock from its warehouses and planned to destroy it.
Zara, founded in 1975 in Spain, now has some 5,500 stores worldwide. It famously promotes the concept of “fast fashion” and reportedly can produce new styles in two weeks, as opposed to the six-month average among its competitors.
Jewish organizations also took note of the “campy” look.
From the Depths, a nonprofit that works to preserve unmarked graves and repurposed gravestones of Jews killed in Poland, posted a condemnation of the chain on Twitter and sent the company a strongly worded letter and subsequently spoke to the management by phone.
In the phone conversation, From the Depths head Jonny Daniels was promised that sale of the shirt would end immediately.
This was not Zara’s first brush with inappropriate and potentially anti-Semitic styles. In a widely reported incident dating back to September 2007, the company faced pushback from the UK Jewish community for purses decorated with Nazi swastikas. In this case too, it pulled the offending stock.
“We express our sincere apologies for any hurt to our customers’ feelings,” the company said in a statement.
Amanda Borschel-Dan contributed to this report.