Is This Mango Shirt Offensive?

Ready for the latest retail controversy? The popular Spain-based retail brand Mango has issued an apology for a lightening print blouse that some people think is anti-Semitic. According to the Daily Mail, Twitter users were angered by the pattern of the shirt, claiming that the design resembles "an insignia worn by the SS and Hitler youths in Nazi Germany." However, despite the backlash, not everyone is convinced the blouse is offensive.

Mango sent the following apology to The Local immediately following the Internet outrage: "The RAYO blouse belongs to a collection inspired by mini-motifs. In the range there are two other models which feature hearts and stars. This design shows one of the designs. Mango regrets the unfortunate association that has come about because of this design." So far, the blouse has not been pulled from the Mango website. For once, I'm siding with the brand on this one.

Unlike the Zara's "Sheriff's t-shirt" with a yellow six-pointed star and Urban Outfitters' bloody-looking Kent State sweatshirt, two items which were clearly too close for comfort, any resemblance between Nazi insignia and Mango's lightening bolt print seems purely incidental. A lightening bolt is a very common symbol and, well, there are limited ways to draw one. It seems like there is just no way Mango was purposefully courting controversy

I understand that the Holocaust is an extremely sensitive topic, and so I don't blame people for getting up in arms about every little thing that could allude to the horrific period in history. However, likening this pattern to that of a pro-Nazi symbol seems like a bit of a stretch and perhaps indicates that we've taken the freak-outs a little too far.

I mean, compare the above photograph to the Swastika ring recently sold at Sears. The latter is obviously worse, there's just no question. If we freak out and clutch our pearls at everything that kinda sorta could look like something offensive if you squint and tilt your head to the left, brands won't take us as seriously when there's something they should really be apologizing for.

That said, brands should make sure they do their research and don't produce merchandise that could alienate certain groups of people (or everyone, in the case of the Holocaust). Perhaps Mango would have fared better had they had at least made this shirt a different color.

Image: Mango