Thursday, October 8, 2009


Update: Die Winkelständer

Loyal Forschungsjahr readers will remember a post I did just under a year ago about clothing racks in the shape of swastikas that were proliferating in Kik outlets all over Germany. What's up with that story? Have the racks remained in place, slowly but inexorably converting all shoppers to a form of paramilitary fascism the free world abhors, or did the German High Court outlaw the asozial racks? I was curious and did a few searches earlier this evening. Using a variety of search terms, such as Kik, Nazi, Winkelständer, I searched on Google for updates. Each search led me right back to this blog. Apparently there is no new information about the controversy. I am the final word on Nazi-influenced clothing display.

I'll continue to seek out closure on the issue, but for the time being, we have to be satisfied with another shocking and insidious neo-nazi plot to win the hearts and minds of unsuspecting Germans through discount clothing. I'm referring to the infamous "NS-Style" hoodies that, until recently, were being sold at Real. I first learned of the threat through a blog called Störungsmelder. A recent post there describes the hooded sweat shirts on sale at a large German chain called Real. The hoodies are brown (!!!) and have the phrase "NS-STYLE" and "Advanced Man" across the chest. For American readers without the background to understand the difficulty, NS could stand for National Socialism, the formal name for the Nazi party. And "Advanced Man?" Might it not be a reference to the wearer as an Übermench, or superior person? Yeah, I guess so, and while we're at it, let's not forget that Santa is an anagram of Satan.

The Störungsmelder writer approached the Real manager and the issue reached the highest levels of Real administration. After a few days the Press Spokesman for Real, Albrecht von Truchseß, called the reporter back and said he found the situation "Extremely irritating." When asked about where the blame might lie, von Truchseß excused the manufacturer who was "probably some guy from Bangladesh, without a clue about National Socialism." Instead, he said Real took responsibility and that the slip up was simply human error. About 1000 sweat shirts were pulled from the shelves and young, fashion conscious neo-nazis will simply have to go elsewhere for their fascist outfits.

My attitude toward this event was one of mild amusement until further reading led me to the difficulties faced by the English sports clothing brand Lonsdale. According to information I read at a variety of sites, Lonsdale is a favorite of neo-nazis throughout Europe. With the Lonsdale logo on your chest, it's possible to wear a jacket that covers the beginning and ending letters of the brand logo yielding the following:


NSDAP was the abbreviation for the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei and apparently that's close enough for the skinheads. Lonsdale has done a lot to combat this association with the radical right, including refusing to deliver clothing to known right wing retailers and creating the "Lonsdale Loves All Colours" ad campaign. Who knew?

Lonsdale has been fairly effective in discouraging this negative association with their brand, but neo-nazis are not deterred. A new brand, Consdaple, was founded by a German far right politician in imitation of Lonsdale, to supply neo-nazis with clothing that displays the full "NSDAP" acronym. It's a kind of determination I can easily identify with, having used the batik process to create my own "FRODO LIVES" T-shirt when I was in junior high, but I can't condone the content. And clearly I was way too cavalier in my amusement with the original Kik Winkelständer story. Bad people may in fact really try to communicate with specially shaped clothing racks and it's up to us to stop them.

No comments: