Fred Perry stop sales of polo shirt due to far-right links

Far-right group the Proud Boys have appropriated the brand's black and yellow polo shirt

Clothing brand Fred Perry has announced that it will no longer be selling one of its polo shirts in North America due to its adoption by a far-right group.

The black and yellow version of the brand’s famous garment, as well as its Laurel Wreath logo, has been adopted in recent years by the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist organisation that promotes and engages in political violence.

In a statement on their website, Fred Perry described it as “incredibly frustrating that this group has appropriated our Black/Yellow/Yellow twin tipped shirt and subverted our Laurel Wreath to their own ends.”

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“The Fred Perry shirt is a piece of British subcultural uniform, adopted by various groups of people who recognise their own values in what it stands for. We are proud of its lineage and what the Laurel Wreath has represented for over 65 years: inclusivity, diversity and independence,” it continued.

Proud Boys
Members of the Proud Boys gather outside a Donald Trump rally on June 18, 2019 in Orlando, Florida. CREDIT: Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

The statement went on to say that the shirt’s association with the Proud Boys is “something we must do our best to end,” and that it will not be on sale in the US or Canada “until we’re satisfied that its association with the Proud Boys has ended”.

“To be absolutely clear,” it continued. “If you see any Proud Boys materials or products featuring our Laurel Wreath or any Black/Yellow/Yellow related items, they have absolutely nothing to do with us, and we are working with our lawyers to pursue any unlawful use of our brand.”

Founded in 1952 by tennis champion Fred Perry, the brand has been associated with a number of subcultures, most prominently the skinheads in the 1960s and 1970s.

Although skinheads initially denounced fascism, some parts of the subculture swung to the far-right during the 1970s.

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Fred Perry’s statement concluded with a previous quote from chairman John Flynn when questioned about the brand’s occasional adoption by the far-right in 2017.

“Fred was the son of a working class socialist MP who became a world tennis champion at a time when tennis was an elitist sport. He started a business with a Jewish businessman from Eastern Europe,” Flynn said.

“It’s a shame we even have to answer questions like this. No, we don’t support the ideals or the group that you speak of. It is counter to our beliefs and the people we work with.”

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