Fred Perry has pulled one of its famous polo shirts after it became associated with a neo-fascist organisation.
The British clothes maker said it was “incredibly frustrating” that the Proud Boys had adopted its black and yellow shirt – and announced it would no longer be selling the item in North America and Canada.
“To be absolutely clear, if you see any Proud Boys materials or products featuring our Laurel Wreath or any Black/Yellow/Yellow related items, they have absolutely nothing to do with us, and we are working with our lawyers to pursue any unlawful use of our brand,” it said in a statement on its website.
Fred Perry does not support and is in no way affiliated with the Proud Boys. Read our statement here.
— Fred Perry (@fredperry) September 25, 2020
The brand was founded by Wimbledon champion Fred Perry in 1952 and has been adopted by various British subcultures since.
It has long been associated with the Skinheads, who originally denounced fascism – although the group divided in the 1970s as a small number of its members swung to the far right.
The clothes brand has spoken out against far-right views on numerous occasions after its wreath-emblazoned polo shirts were used by controversial groups.
“The Fred Perry shirt is a piece of British subcultural uniform, adopted by various groups of people who recognise their own values in what it stands for,” the brand said.
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“We are proud of its lineage and what the Laurel Wreath has represented for over 65 years: inclusivity, diversity and independence…
“Despite its lineage, we have seen that the Black/Yellow/Yellow twin-tipped shirt is taking on a new and very different meaning in North America as a result of its association with the Proud Boys. That association is something we must do our best to end.”
The brand revealed it had discontinued the shirt in North America and Canada since September last year, and would not be selling it there again “until we’re satisfied that its association with the Proud Boys has ended”.
The Proud Boys is a far-right group that admits only men and promotes political violence.
When asked in 2017 about the association, Fred Perry chairman John Flynn said the group was “counter to our beliefs and the people we work with”.
“Fred was the son of a working-class socialist MP who became a world tennis champion at a time when tennis was an elitist sport. He started a business with a Jewish businessman from Eastern Europe,” he said.
“It’s a shame we even have to answer questions like this. No, we don’t support the ideals or the group that you speak of.”