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The move would represent a major blow for the British boxing sportswear company, as its clothing collection would be withdrawn from the 40 million mail- order catalogues Quelle distributes to customers across Europe.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 If imposed, the label would be withdrawn from the company's next print run of mail- order catalogues: "Lonsdale products are known for their quality and removing them from our collection would result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
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower