Izzue goes anti-war after Nazi-theme controversy

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 October, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 October, 2003, 12:00am

Symbols of Nazi Germany are back on the shelves of a Hong Kong fashion chain - but this time with patches advocating 'No War' covering them.

The Nazi-themed merchandise was removed by the Izzue chain in August, following complaints from the German and Israeli consulates and the wider community in Hong Kong.

But the stores have now become unlikely anti-war advocates, slamming Nazism in a bid to save their investment in the merchandise.

The word 'Nazism' emblazoned across the front of one sweatshirt has been crossed out with a thick line and the swastika on a T-shirt is partially covered by a patch reading 'No War'.

In mid-August the fashion chain apologised through an advertisement in the Post to readers and shoppers offended by its line of clothing and displays featuring insignia from the Third Reich, including Nazi flags.

The company said it would remove 'display banners and all related merchandise immediately from our shops'.

'We deeply apologise for any discomfort and inconvenience caused ... We will return the merchandise to the warehouse. We will reconsider how to deal with the clothes,' it said.

Last week when a Post reporter shopping at the store asked if the 'No War' patch could be removed, as it did not match exactly with the background, a sales assistant giggled and said: 'It might not be so good without it.'

Store assistants confirmed that the T-shirts and sweatshirts were the same ones which had been removed earlier, but said they had been modified to defuse the controversy.

The sweatshirts were on sale, reduced from $315 to $252. The T-shirt sold for $117 and the hooded sweatshirt for $249.

Neither the German nor Israeli consulates could be reached for comment.

Democrat lawmaker and vice-chairman of the Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu islands, Albert Ho Chun-yan, who had vowed to protest outside the stores in August unless the clothes were removed, welcomed the latest move.

'I think they have learned a good lesson and have become more conscious of the sensitivity of the issue, even to the extent of advocating an anti-war stance,' Mr Ho said.

Rose Wu of the Hong Kong Christian Institute agreed: 'It demonstrates that public opinion and the media are really very important in making sure businesses are socially responsible.'

Gloria Yu, spokeswoman for IT, the fashion chain's parent company, told the Post she was unaware the items were back on sale.