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27 Aug, 2014 15:54

Holocaust chic? Zara withdraws ‘Nazi concentration camp’ pajamas

Holocaust chic? Zara withdraws ‘Nazi concentration camp’ pajamas

Spanish clothes giant Zara has removed a striped baby shirt with a sewn-on badge identical to the Star of David, after shoppers were outraged by its similarities to a Nazi death camp uniform.

“The item in question, part of the Cowboy Collection for babies, was inspired by the character of the sheriff in Wild West movies,” said a statement from the fashion label after the controversy erupted within hours of the shirt going on sale.

This is not how shoppers saw it.

The new #ZARA Sheriff T-Shirt is somewhat #Holocaust ish in its design don't you agree? http://t.co/PY9RymfTc4pic.twitter.com/EdQMghaXO8

— Shulman (@shulman_k) August 27, 2014

In its color and placement, the “sheriff’s badge” – the word Sheriff barely visible in the negative space embroidering – is a one-for-one copy of the Star of David, the religious symbol of Judaism that Jews in Nazi Germany had to wear to mark them as second-class citizens. This was supplemented with a striped design, echoing the patterns on the robes worn by imprisoned Jews in SS death camps.

A Jewish man in the Nazi Germany with the yellow star on his clothes. Starting on November 19, 1941, all the inhabitants of Germany of Jewish extraction had, according to the Nazi racist law, to wear this sign on their clothes. (RIA Novosti)

The accusation of insensitivity would have been easier to fend off if anyone across the internet actually managed to remember a Wild West movie where any of the characters were dressed like inmates from Auschwitz.

Hey, @zara, how many Classic Western Films had a sheriff wearing a striped shirt? I'm having difficulty finding any examples.

— Yo (@yo60640) August 27, 2014

Zara is super confused about classic western sheriff pajamas... http://t.co/KyjYCvKFRIpic.twitter.com/46ZrGbjLB7

— Jeff Macke (@JeffMacke) August 27, 2014

The company, which operates over 2,000 stores in 88 countries, apologized in all of its main customer languages, with the Israeli office going as far as saying that they will “exterminate” the pajamas, creating another mini-controversy in the process.

@CasMudde We honestly apologize, it was inspired by the sheriff’s stars from the Classic Western films and is no longer in our stores

— ZARA (@ZARA) August 27, 2014

The fallout, magnified by Twitter and the media, is reminiscent of a similar incident two years ago, when online retailer Urban Outfitters was forced to remove a yellow T-shirt with a grey Star of David.

Children behind the wire in the Auschwitz concentration camp. (RIA Novosti/Fishman)

This is also not the first time Zara, whose parent company Inditex had revenues of €16 billion last year has found itself in hot water in recent weeks. Its ostensibly playful “White is the new black” T-shirt had to also be withdrawn after public complaints about potential racism.

does anyone at zara have a brain? they were also selling these offensive shirts just a month ago http://t.co/lA7QoAXilL

— amie lesser (@amielesser) August 27, 2014