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The move would represent a major blow for the British boxing sportswear company, as its clothing collection would be withdrawn from the 40 million mail- order catalogues Quelle distributes to customers across Europe.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 If imposed, the label would be withdrawn from the company's next print run of mail- order catalogues: "Lonsdale products are known for their quality and removing them from our collection would result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

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss