Zara has pulled a denim frog skirt from its website after a series of tweets drew attention to the design's resemblance to former meme and current hate symbol Pepe the Frog, the Guardian reported Wednesday. Music and fashion Writer Meagan Fredette first brought attention to the embroidered frogs' similarities to Pepe Monday night.
"Flirting with racial controversy is not a good business tactic," Fredette told Dazed. By Tuesday, others had started noting the similarities:
In a statement to British Vogue Wednesday, a Zara spokesperson said the design has "no link" to Pepe. "The skirt is part of the limited Oil-On-Denim collection which was created through collaborations with artists and is only available in selected markets," the spokesperson said. "The designer of the skirt is Mario de Santiago, known online as Yimeisgreat. Mario explores social interactions through his work and in his own words: 'The idea came from a wall painting I drew with friends four years ago.' There is absolutely no link to the suggested theme."
In 2007, Zara pulled a handbag from stores after complaints it was emblazoned with swastikas. The retailer said it had been unaware of the swastikas, as the original design they approved did not include them. "After the return of one bag, we decided to withdraw the whole range," a spokesperson told Reuters at the time.
Pepe was added to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)'s online hate symbols database in September of last year. As explained in their announcement, Pepe didn't begin with anti-Semitic intentions. "But as the meme proliferated in online venues such as 4chan, 8chan, and Reddit, a subset of memes came into existence promoting anti-Jewish, bigoted, and offensive ideas," an ADL rep said. "And those have spread virally on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere."
Zara did not immediately respond to Complex's request for comment.