Lonsdale faces ban over 'neo-Nazi associations'

The German mail-order giant Quelle has threatened to ban the British sports-wear label Lonsdale from its collection because of the brand's widespread popularity among racist and neo-Nazi groups.

The move would represent a major blow for the British boxing sportswear company, as its clothing collection would be withdrawn from the 40 million mail- order catalogues Quelle distributes to customers across Europe.

Michel Badke, Quelle's managing director, said yesterday that the measure was being considered because of growing concerns in Germany and across Europe that Lonsdale had become a favourite label among members of known neo-Nazi and racist organisations. "Quelle wants to distance itself clearly from all tendencies associated with extremism," Mr Badke said in a statement. "We want to counter any suggestion that we are supporting right-wing extremists through the sale of these goods."

Lawyers representing Lonsdale declined to comment yesterday.

Lonsdale is famous in Britain because of its boxing links. But in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, the label is associated with the extreme right. Skinhead thugs are frequently photographed in the press wearing Lonsdale bomber jackets and hooded sweatshirts.

The letters NSDA - contained in the brand's name - are taken by far-right supporters to be one letter short of the initials of Adolf Hitler's Nazi party - the National Socialist Worker's Party - or, the National Sozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei (NSDAP).

Members of Germany's extreme-right party, the National Democratic Party (NDP), sport Lonsdale clothing and party officials wore the label during election campaigning in Saxony in 2004, when it gained seats in the state parliament for the first time in 20 years.

A spokesman for Quelle said yesterday that the company would decide whether to implement a ban on Lonsdale clothing within days. "We are still considering the issue because, despite its image, Lonsdale is known for actively campaigning against the far right," he said.

He added that any ban would not affect customers who had already ordered Lonsdale clothing. If imposed, the label would be withdrawn from the company's next print run of mail- order catalogues: "Lonsdale products are known for their quality and removing them from our collection would result in considerable losses," he said.

It is the first time that a German company has considered action to prohibit the distribution of Lonsdale products. But in Holland, nightclubs, bars, schools and a town have launched a campaign to ban wearing the label because of its right-wing associations.

Lonsdale has in the past refused to supply German retail outlets known to be popular with far-right groups and has tried to improve its image by sponsoring immigrant and gay rights campaigns. In Holland, Lonsdale responded to the campaign by launching a publicity campaign with the slogan: "Lonsdale loves all colours."

Quelle's decision to consider exempting Lonsdale from its collection appeared to be one of the most far-reaching bans the company has ever been threatened with. In Germany alone, Quelle distributes an annual 27 million mail-order catalogues to customers.

Quelle's announcement was prompted by a youth group from Germany's Social Democratic Party, which wrote to the company's management complaining that the Lonsdale brand and its widespread use by neo-Nazis was encouraging an acceptance of views that were prohibited in Germany - where the Nazi party is banned.

"We were completely surprised by Quelle's reaction to our letter, " said Jane Kuewen, a spokesman for the Social Democrat youth group. "Quelle is showing courage. Its actions are exemplary," she added.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum