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Fred Perry’s race-baiting all non-white fashion shoot is the cheapest possible shot at woke publicity

Chris Sweeney
Chris Sweeney

Chris Sweeney is an author and columnist who has written for newspapers such as The Times, Daily Express, The Sun and Daily Record, along with several international-selling magazines. Follow him on Twitter @Writes_Sweeney

Chris Sweeney is an author and columnist who has written for newspapers such as The Times, Daily Express, The Sun and Daily Record, along with several international-selling magazines. Follow him on Twitter @Writes_Sweeney

Fred Perry’s race-baiting all non-white fashion shoot is the cheapest possible shot at woke publicity
Fred Perry, a UK clothing brand associated with the far-right, has ignited debate after a photo shoot without white models. It predictably sparked outrage – but was the troll-feeding deliberate?

Fred Perry is an icon of British sport, most famous for winning Wimbledon on home soil in 1936. He was also one of the first athletes to branch out and create a clothing brand.

Fred – who's now dead – had no control over his logo subsequently being hijacked by the far-right. Proud Boys – who claim to protect ‘Western values’, but are widely regarded as neo-fascists – even use a Fred Perry black with yellow trim polo shirt as their uniform. It's a staple along with the likes of Dr. Martens, Stone Island and Burberry.

But Fred Perry has been caught up in a bitter social media storm that trended on Twitter, between some ardent left-wingers and some of its clientele, a section of whom are racist. The racists are outraged that the recent images for its clothes feature only non-white male models. They feel they are being marginalised as Fred Perry attempts to prove it is “2020 woke.”

RT

Toss a cookie to your troll

The thing is, in today's day and age, no brand could be that naive as to not have seen this coming – and in fact, not to have counted on it.

It's entirely plausible that someone at Fred Perry decided this would be a cunning way to milk some free publicity.

Shops are shut and retail brands are scared to look at their ever-mounting losses. So there's hardly a surplus of cash to splash on advertising.

It is obvious that by shooting images with no white people, it was going to stir up a hornet's nest. Considering the UK's population is 87 percent white, for a historic British brand to use only different ethnicities has to be deliberate.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with that – except it being yet another episode of virtue signalling that plagues publicity now.

Fred Perry may have wanted to be seen breaking up with the far-right that it has come to be associated with. But by playing games with the colour of its models’ skin, it has only given oxygen to the fire that the racists are trying to keep alive.

They have given them what they wanted, the chance to pop up online and spew out their bile about feeling they cannot wear Fred Perry any longer because of some inconsequential pictures.

No risk publicity

That, in turn, allows the sandal-wearing, lentil-eating left-wingers to sweep in, boost their egos and argue back – a pointless exchange that will be repeated countlessly over many incidents.

It wasn’t even a serious effort to cut the unwanted far-right links. The not-so-subtle approach of arranging skin tones for a photo shoot doesn't cut much ice when people perform the Sieg Heil salute while wearing your logo.

They could rebrand, they could launch a serious educational campaign, they could do a series of videos aimed at the general public – and make clear what their intention is.

Instead their lazy attempt is a cheap shot and has kept them on safe ground, as the only ethnic group they can offend here is white people – and in the eyes of the left, ‘offended white person’ is a synonym for ‘racist’. Did the Fred Perry PR team sketch the plan for this on the back of a cigarette packet in ten minutes?

Even Fred Perry's website states it “was adopted by generations of British subcultures.” In this case, is that something to boast about? Especially if it’s going to wantonly play the race card like this.

The racists are annoyed. The non-racists are confused. The militant left is delighted. Depending on where you're sitting, this has either backfired or worked as intended. Neither sits well with me.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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