Friday, September 21, 2007

Fury over Nazi Fashion Bags

The Spanish clothing chain Zara recently pulled a whole line of handbags that were embroidered with little swastikas. My first reaction is "what the hell were they thinking to sell bags that have swastikas on them" - in Europe no less. The hubbub over the bags started in Britain when a woman returned a bag to the store after discovered the swastikas.

On second glance however, the mistake is easier to understand. The handbags were made in India. In India, the swastika is an ancient sign symbolizing the sun, strength, and good luck, much as it is an ancient symbol for fertility in other cultures. The designers in India were using that connotation to the symbol, rather than any anti-semitic meaning it could have imparted. Apparently, the buyers at Zara approved a mock-up without any swastikas (though you'd think someone would check before they actually went on the shelves).

Now, it's unfortunate that the Nazis appropriated a symbol which used to be so positive and turned it into something evil. It's unfortunate that Zara didn't realize its mistake. And it's unfortunate that people bought handbags that had symbols with such negative connotations and that have such a history (especially in Europe). But I highly doubt that it was an attempt on the part of Zara to legitimize fascism.

1 comment:

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