Fenwicks department store withdraws Boy London clothing over 'Nazi' eagle logo complaints
Fashion label rejects claims that it had appropriated fascist Third Reich's Parteiadler symbol
Adam Sherwin is Media Correspondent at The Independent and an award-winning writer who specialises in covering the entertainment, broadcasting, music and popular culture industries. Previously Media writer and diarist at The Times, he was a co-founder of the Beehive City media and entertainment website. As regular contributor to BBC London 94.9 Radio station, he was named Music Business writer of the year at the awards of influential music industry site Record of the Day in 2006.
Friday 07 March 2014
The fashion label Boy London has rejected claims that its logo closely resembles the Nazi eagle symbol after the Fenwick department store responded to protests by withdrawing the brand.
Boy London, whose products are worn by celebrities including Rihanna, Cara Delevingne and Jessie J, dismissed complaints that its trademark logo of a spread-winged eagle perched on a podium had appropriated the fascist Third Reich's Parteiadler symbol.
The brand, founded during the punk era, has been subject to a social media campaign urging shoppers not to wear merchandise displaying its eagle logo.
The campaigners argue that Boy London adapted the striking image of the eagle, which is depicted holding a swastika in its claws in the Nazi image.
The Fenwick store in Brent Cross Shopping Centre, north-west London, withdrew the brand from its position at the store entrance, after being alerted to protests by the Jewish Chronicle.
Shoppers said they were "shocked" and "offended" to find prominent stores retailing the brand.
A Fenwick spokesman said: "Our Boy London line is no longer on the shop floor as we investigate the matter directly with the brand."
Asos, the online fashion retailer, is considering its position after protestors launched a petition urging the distributor to stop selling the "eagle" merchandise.
An Asos spokesman said: "If there was any significant indication that we were upsetting our customers, we would review our position robustly."
However Boy London rejected any linkage with Nazi symbolism. A spokesman said: "The brand is in no way connected to Nazism or the idea of anyone being discriminated against for their creed, colour or religious beliefs."
The eagle logo was "inspired by the eagle of the Roman Empire as a sign of decadence and strength. Its aim is to empower people rather than oppress."
Founded by Israel-based businessman John Krivine, the original Boy boutique in Chelsea traded in outrageous items, including T-shirts with dried animal blood and jewellery made from hypodermic syringes, which were modelled by the original punks.
Mr Krivine, who sold the company in 1984, said: "I don't know what kind of eagle it was - Roman Legion, American Indian, Continental Congress, Third Reich - it looked cool."
"The eagle defined and represented the tribe of Boy and gave the label strength," said co-founder Stephane Raynor.
Nazi imagery had been a feature of the late 70s punk's rebellion. Krivine's competitor, Jewish punk entrepreneur Malcolm McLaren, sold swastika T-shirts, trading on the symbol's shock value.
Boy George, Pet Shop Boys and Madonna posed in Boy's branded caps, leggings and T-shirts during the 80s before the now vintage label found a new lease of life when it was rediscovered by the likes of Rihanna.
Mark Gardner, communication director at the Community Security Trust, an anti-semitism watchdog, welcomed Fenwick's "responsible" decision to drop the Boy brand.
He told the Jewish Chronicle: "The logo closely resembles the Nazi eagle - with its claws holding a circle containing a swastika, except now, the swastika is removed.
"It is easy to understand why people will be offended by such a logo, particularly when it is promoted for profit to youngsters who are probably ignorant of its resonance."
Sharon Lee, a Brent Cross shopper, had complained to Fenwick about the Boy London display.
She told the paper: "I'm the child of a Holocaust survivor and have seen my father's papers stamped with the Nazi eagle - so I know what it is. I was so shocked when I saw it in Fenwick. It's 100 per cent offensive."
A Facebook protest against the eagle logo features a model who has crossed out the word Boy and spray-painted Man on his shirt. A statement underneath reads: "Take a stand against this kind of extremist symbolism in fashion. Boy London's logo uses the Nazi eagle which promotes Neo-Nazism and is extremely offensive to Holocaust survivors and WWII Veterans. Time to grow up and be a man."
In 2007, the Zara chain was forced to withdraw stocks of handbags because they were emblazoned with swastikas. Zara said the bag came from an external supplier and the symbol had not been visible when it was selected.
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