A Brazilian fashion brand has come under fire over a striped shirt and trousers look that has been compared to the notorious striped uniforms worn by prisoners in the Nazi death camps.
Thousands of Germans with connections to the Nazi party moved to Brazil in the post-war period, including Josef Mengele, a doctor who became known as the “Angel of Death” at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
But the Riachuelo fashion brand and department store company, which operates over 300 outlets all over Brazil, has said they had not intended to cause offence. They had quickly backtracked after outraged netizens pointed out that its new set of clothing made up of a striped shirt and trousers looked just like the concentration camp uniforms the Nazis made Jews and others wear during World War II.
The white and blue stripey outfit was posted online by a specialist in material culture and consumption and psychoanalytic semiotics, which is the study of the unconscious, named as Maria Eugenya, whose post on Twitter had notched up over 5.6 million views at the time of writing.
She said: “Riachuelo’s fashion designers are missing history lessons – and some sense.”
Netizens appear to overwhelmingly agree with her, with a number of posts featuring the Riachuelo clothing also notching up significant numbers of views and provoking similar outrage.
Riachuelo has since issued a statement saying: “We, at Riachuelo, value respect for all people, and we clarify that, at no time, was there an intention to make any allusion to a historical period that harmed the human rights of so many people.
“The choice of the design of the pieces and the colour palette was indeed an unfortunate decision, and we would like to emphasise that all the pieces are already being removed from our stores and e-commerce.
“We understand the sensitivity of the issue, appreciate it being brought to our attention by consumers, and apologise to all those who felt offended by what the product may have represented.”
Brazil is reportedly experiencing increased support for neo-Nazi ideas since former President Jair Bolsonaro’s 2019-2023 term in office. Legislation is regarded as weak and outdated, with symbols from the Nazi regime, although illegal, rarely punished.
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