Silver Star addresses controversial t-shirt design

December 31, 2010

T-Shirt manufacturer Silver Star had to respond to questions about one of its shirts as the design was similar to a Nazi symbol. The controversy came up when Clay Guida wore the shirt during an interview. Although Guida defended Silver Star in stating that the designers did not know of the perceived Nazi affiliation, the company pulled the shirt a year ago due to the Nazi similarities.

Via Cagewriter:

Silver Star has quickly apologized and said the shirt was discontinued a year ago. They said they didn’t realize the association between the design and the Nazis. I’ll buy that, simply because the swastika is the symbol most often associated with the Nazi party. After that, unless you’re addicted to the History Channel, it’s not always easy to associate every symbol.

The symbol in question is the totenkopf.

Payout Perspective:

Silver Star did the right thing by addressing this issue immediately. From a PR standpoint, it pointed out that it realized the issue and its solution was to take the design off the shelves. The unforseen problem was that Guida had the shirt and likely put it on without thinking of it. Since it pulled the t-shirt a year ago, Silver Star could have notified all of its sponsored athletes that they should not wear it due to the Nazi association. Obviously, this task may be asking too much, but Silver Star could have covered its bases it trying to preserve its image.

As Maggie Hendricks points out in her Cagewriter article, the best way to avoid confusion with Nazi imagery is to have fresh t-shirt designs. I agree that t-shirt makers need to come up with creative designs that do not just depict skulls, crossbones, iron crosses or any other symbols of war. Obviously, t-shirt designers make shirts based on its audience. Many manufacturers have designs featuring skulls and other logos showing aggression. While there is a segment of MMA fans that like the designs, makers should check the source of its inspiration for the designs. As in the case of this design, it was politically incorrect. Hendricks points out that other shirt makers, like Cagehero, have unique designs devoid of the war themes.

5 Responses to “Silver Star addresses controversial t-shirt design”

  1. Steve on January 1st, 2011 9:36 AM

    I don’t buy it.

    This kind of thing has happened WAY too often with MMA clothing to be a coincidence, and I’m not even talking about the obvious example of Hoelzer Reich. MMA clothing love to push the envelope with questionable imagery and always fall back on “whoops! we didn’t know” when they step over the line.

    Besides, this is not the first time Silver Star has been busted for using Nazi imagery. Their old company logo used SS runes to spell the company name. That logo got noticed and got them banned at some schools, and sure enough, they played the “whoops! we didn’t know” card.

    Also, let’s not forget Silver Star’s unofficial first reaction to their use of the Totenkopf. They broke out the tried and true Hoezer Reich “it’s a Prussian symbol” defense. They even chastised people for not doing their research. How can they play the “we didn’t know” card and the “it’s Prussian” card at the same time. If they knew it was Prussian, then surely they knew about it’s Nazi ties. That is why they droppd the ‘Prussian defense’ when they came out with their official statement.

    Finally, let’s not act like the totenkopf is some obscure symbol that people in the clothing industry are unaware of. Wal-Mart went through a major PR fiasco and recall a few years back when it was discovered that one of their knock-off skull shirts used the totenkopf. Are you telling me that folks ABG don’t keep up with industry news, especially when that news pertains the largest retailer in North America? I’m not buying it. They knew.

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.

  2. Eli on January 2nd, 2011 12:37 PM

    Luke Burrett is a jewish American. I’m 100% certain this was a mistake.

    You can call it sloppy, which is was. You can call it stupid, which is certainly was. But it’s not intentional.

  3. Steve on January 2nd, 2011 2:24 PM

    How do you explain their previous run in with Nazi symbolism then?

    Was that just ‘sloppy’ too?

    Given their previous history with using Nazi symbols, coupled with Wal-Mart’s totenkopf fiasco being major news in the ‘skull based’ apparel industry, you would think they would keep an eye out for this stuff. If this really is a case of recidivist sloppiness, then it is probably time for ABG to start considering new management for the brand.

  4. Steve on January 2nd, 2011 2:28 PM

    In regards to Burnett being Jewish, he wouldn’t be the firs guy to sell out his culture for the almighty dollar. If these T-shirt makers think Nazi symbolism can sell them a few extra shirts (as long as they don’t get caught), I have no doubt that they are willing to take that risk given how quickly the public is willing to forgive and forget once the “whoops! we didn’t know” card gets played.

  5. Jason Cruz on January 4th, 2011 11:21 PM

    Some more interesting stuff on this subject.

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