Of all the symbols in this world that has the power to shock, the swastika is right up there.
Although the symbol used by the Nazis was co-opted from a Buddhist symbol representing prosperity (the Sanskrit word svastika loosely translates to ‘conducive to wellbeing’), it has become something that for many represents horrific events such as the Holocaust.
Retailer Shein has recently apologised after customer complaints about a necklace they were selling showing the symbol.
The necklace, which was on sale for $2.50, was labelled as a ‘swastika pendant necklace’ and has since been removed from the site.
A number of influencers and groups focused on ending antisemitism spoke up about the item, with one such campaigning page saying: ‘We demand that #shein IMMEDIATELY remove this item from their website as it represents the mass murder of millions.’
Influencer Marissa Casey Grossman, who goes by the handle Fashionambitionist, said: ‘HOLY F***. I have zero words. I will NEVER be buying from [Shein] EVER again. This is a company that I’ve bought from so much over the years and to see this is ABSOLUTELY disgusting.’
On a post on fashion page Diet Prada about the scandal, Marc Jacobs replied ‘Heinous’ to the photo.
A spokesperson for Shein told Buzzfeed News that the necklace actually featured ‘a Buddhist swastika which has symbolized spirituality and good fortune for more than a thousand years.’
It was highlighted by the brand that the Nazi version goes clockwise, whereas the traditional religious version is anti-clockwise.
They continued: ‘However, because we understand the two symbols can be confused, and one is highly offensive, we have removed the product from our site.
‘As a multicultural and global brand, we want to apologize profusely to those who are offended, we are sensitive to these issues and want to be very clear that we in no way support or condone racial, cultural and religious prejudice or hostility.
‘We are actively working through our internal structure and processes to resolve these issues, including a product review committee to ensure that we respect our diverse community.
‘We are a global and all-inclusive brand and we are taking extreme measures to ensure that all items are cleared through a rigorous vetting process before we retail them.’
This comes after a previous controversy for the brand, after they were found to be selling Muslim prayer mats as decorative rugs.
Writer Khadija Rizxi – who first noted the products in Shein’s homeware section – stated: ‘I was so incredibly offended and hurt that a piece of my religion, something we pray on 5 times a day, was being used as a casual mat for regular use — when at home we treat it with the utmost respect.’
She wrote on her Instagram page: ‘I am disgusted. I am livid is [Shein] also PROFITING off muslim prayer mats (janemaz/sajadah) by selling them as ‘fringe trim carpets’ for people to use casually around the house.’
At the time, Shein said: ‘To our community – we made a serious mistake recently by selling prayer mats as decorative rugs on our site.
‘We understand this was a highly offensive oversight and we are truly sorry.’
The company removed the products from sale and claimed they had hired a committed product review team to ensure such mistakes would not happen again.