Fred Perry, an iconic UK clothing company, is setting the bar when it comes to handling hate groups that have coopted something you’ve created as their own.

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For the last several years, Proud Boys, the far-right group generally best known for white nationalism, misogyny, and Nazi ties, have adopted Fred Perry’s black and yellow twin-tipped polo shirt as a uniform of sorts. 

The company has been clear on their frustrations over the matter, with chairman John Flynn stating in 2017 that the ideals of the Proud Boys are “counter to our beliefs and the people we work with.”

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But it turns out Fred Perry has finally taken things a step further — they’ve discontinued the sale of these shirts in North America entirely.

In a statement released last week, the company noted that “the Fred Perry shirt is a piece of British subcultural uniform, adopted by various groups of people who recognize 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.”

But they also acknowledged that the shirt has become far too commonly associated with the Proud Boys in the U.S. and Canada, and say “that association is something we must do our best to end.”

Sales of the shirt in the U.S. ended in September 2019, and Fred Perry says they are committed to no longer selling it either here or in Canada “until we’re satisfied that its association with the Proud Boys has ended.”

“To be absolutely clear, 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,” the statement reads.

To be so forthright in their condemnation of the Proud Boys, particularly in a world where our own president likes to insist there are “very fine people, on both sides” when it comes to neo-Nazis, is an impressive commitment to putting people over profit, particularly when paired with actually trying to keep their items out of the hands of hate group members who would gladly fork over the cash for them.

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And fans of the apparel company are both expressing their gratitude and hoping the Black/Yellow/Yellow shirt becomes one that can eventually break free of such negative associations.

It’s also worth noting, as Flynn did back in 2017, that the man for whom the brand is named “was the song of a working class socialist MP” who “started a business with a Jewish businessman from Eastern Europe.”

In other words, two people who would want nothing to do with the Proud Boys or anything they stand for.

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*First Published: September 28, 2020, 5:44 am