Zara bosses forced to withdraw 'Swastika' handbags from shelves

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  1. Zara bosses forced to withdraw 'Swastika' handbags from shelves

    Last updated at 14:21pm on 18th September 2007

    A bag embroidered with Nazi-style swastikas was withdrawn by fashion store Zara today after a rush of complaints.

    Bosses were forced to apologise and withdrew the £39 bag immediately. The bag - which also features flowers and bicycles - has four green swastikas at each corner.

    Race-hate campaigners described the bags as "abhorrent".
    Denis Fernando, national secretary of Unite Against Fascism said: "We believe there are many ways in which fascism is legitimised in modern society.
    "There are people who see that symbol and it means annihilation and murder to them.
    "It is completely offensive and abhorrent to millions and millions of people.
    "Fascism and racist symbols are sometimes legitimised in popular culture, this is one of those times. It should have no place in a modern society.
    Rachel Hatton, 19, from Ashford, Kent, who bought the bag, said: "I brought it back to the shop and asked someone if it was a swastika. A man said it did look like one and so I got my money refunded. "It's a terrible thing to put on a bag."

    Denis Fernando, national secretary of Unite Against Fascism, said: "Fascism and racist symbols are sometimes legitimised in popular culture, this is one of those times."
    A Zara spokesman said today: "We did not realise Swastikas appeared on some of these bags, the swastika was not on the bag which was sourced by us after being supplied by an external producer. "Of course we apologise to anyone who was offended by the bag, and we will be withdrawing it from all our stores."
    Zara, which is owned by Spanish retail giant Inditex Group, has 50 stores in the UK and is a favourite of super WAG Alex Curran - who regularly buys clothes for her daughters Lilly-Ella, three, and Lexie, one, at the high street store.
    Alex Curran, who is married to Liverpool and England midfielder Steve Gerrard, has spoken of her daughter's love for the chain, saying: "I usually get their stuff at Gap, Zara, H&M and Monsoon."
    The Spanish firm has 1,026 stores in 68 countries across the world and is considered to be one of the largest fashion retailers in Europe. The swastika was a Hindu symbol appropriated by the Nazis.

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  2. Thank goodness they removed this.
  3. I don't even understand why they would make it in the first place?
  4. Because I believe the bag was made in India, and it was originially not meant as a symbol for hate. (It was adapted as a Nazi symbol in 1920.)

    It was originally from Sanskrit svástika स्वास्तिक. The term is derived from Sanskrit svasti, meaning well-being. The Thai greeting sawasdee is from the same root and carries the same implication.

    In India, it is common enough to be a part of several Devanagari fonts. It is also a symbol in the modern Unicode and is often imprinted on religious texts, marriage invitations, and decorations. It is used to mark religious flags in Jainism and Buddhist temples in Asia.

    There's a great wikipedia article about the swastika:
  5. They are a traditional symbol of Hinduism and other Eastern religions - Predates the use of the symbol by Nazis by about 5000 years.

    Check out the section under "Religion and mythology"
  6. ^ Interesting! I didn't know that. You would still think that a designer should be a bit more globally conscious though... it's not like the fact that the Nazi's adopted that symbol was a huge secret.
  7. :tup: We posted at the same time!!

  8. Of course. It is all about context. Seeing this bag in India or in an Indian/Buddhist/Eastern store anywhere would not be offensive.
  9. ^ that's true, I understand your point. Where exactly was the bag being sold?
  10. The Hindu swastika is usually pointed the other way and it's not angled like the Nazis' was. I always wondered what a madman who thought blue eyed blondes were superior people used a Hindu symbol to represent his movement? And true, while designers should probably be more globally conscious, would you really expect millions of people use this symbol for its original religous purpose to suddenly give it up? If some lunatic comes along and uses the cross to represent something horrible, would all Christians suddenly be expected to forget about it?
  11. ^
    The answer to your question is so complex...

    I think most of it is due to the fact that western culture shapes most of the world and has a huge impact. The cross did probably represent horrible things to others during the crusades f.ex. but since the cross was on the sice of those who became the most powerful in the end, it does not have horrible associations today. To most westerners that swastika was probably unknown before the WW2 and thus, because western culture and companies continues to be the most powerful, what that symbol means in the western context will be most important. Also most of the consumers are european/on the side of europe during WW2/part of westrn society.
  12. I never said the symbol should be 'given up', but embroidering it on a handbag that is sold by an international store is a huge oversight.

    One could go on for days about symbols, images, topics and so on that offensive to one culture, but not to another. That's why I thought that it was the responsibilty of the designer, company, whoever, to be globally conscious when manufacturing their products.
  13. I've known for a long time that the swastika was originally symbol with positive connotations. The problem is that most other people don't know. Even so, the symbol has become so associated with Nazism that I don't believe there is any hope of restoring it to its original meaning. If Zara approved a design that has no swastikas, why did they put the bag with swastikas on the shelves? Surely, the people working at the retail locations must have noticed there were swastikas on the bags when they put them on the sales floor. Nobody thought to question why a bag with swastikas was being put on the floor?
  14. It depends on the context. (And I think that's true of all icons and symbols.)

    The bag was made in India and to them the swastika doesn't have such the negative connotations. And I don't think the Eastern cultures should give up the symbol. They had it first.

    I thought that bag was very pretty, but I wouldn't feel comfortable carrying it around, either.
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