The 'Iwo Jima'-Themed Shirt Under Armour Designed Has Been Pulled From Shelves & The Company Has Publicly Said Sorry
Last week, athletic clothing company Under Armour came under fire for a T-shirt featuring a silhouette of several men raising a basketball hoop, which appeared to imitate the famous flag raising during the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima. The company was flooded with complaints on social media from people who said the shirt was offensive to veterans and current Marines. Under Armour has pulled the "Iwo Jima" shirt from shelves and has issued a public apology, promising customers it wouldn't happen again.
Basically, the shirt was offensive because Under Armour was using a historic moment when many Marines were killed to help market its basketball wear. The U.S. invaded Iwo Jima in 1945 because it needed a base near the Japanese coast, according to the History Channel's website. After about a month of fighting, Americans finally gained control of the territory and raised the American flag — a moment that was caught on camera by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal.
In an apology on Twitter Saturday, the company said the "Band of Ballers" shirt does not represent its support for veterans. In the statement, Under Armour said it was removing the shirt, which was being sold for $24.99, from stores and were taking steps "to ensure this doesn't happen again."
Under Armour isn't the only company that has been criticized for T-shirt designs. In August, Spanish fashion retailer Zara drew criticism for a striped T-shirt with a yellow star on the breast. Critics said it resembled the uniforms worn by inmates in concentration camps during the Holocaust. Zara apologized on Twitter, removed the shirt from websites and stores, and noted the garment had been inspired by "the sheriff's stars from the Classic Western films," according to CNN.
Just a month after the Zara controversy, Urban Outfitters also faced backlash for the sale of a blood-stained Kent State sweatshirt, according to the Washington Post. The description of the shirt said "Get it or regret it!," and claimed to be one-of-a-kind at $129. The shooting at Kent State took place in 1970, when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed students who were protesting then-President Richard Nixon's expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia. Four students were killed and nine were wounded — one was permanently paralyzed — according to a Kent State website.
According to a Twitter apology, Urban Outfitters said the sweatshirt was part of the company's "sun-faded vintage collection.” The bright red stains and holes were simply "discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray":
Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. ... There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. ... Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.
Urban Outfitters has been the center of a slew of other clothing controversies, including one time the company sold a shirt with the color options "White/Charcoal" and "Obama/Black," according to Jezebel.
In March, clothing retailer T.J. Maxx pulled a T-shirt from stores that said "Hang Loose" with a photo of a noose. The shirt, manufactured by beachwear company Tavik, was meant to be nothing but a surfing reference, according to a Washington Post statement by Tavik's PR manager, Kelly McElroy:
We sincerely apologize for any offense caused by this T-shirt. This item was released without going through proper protocols and has zero relation to anything other than surfing. We will be pulling this item from retailers immediately.