Online retailer's swastika necklace triggers social media outrage

Shein apologised, but claimed that its swastika was not a Nazi symbol


Online fast-fashion retailer Shein has apologised and removed a gold-coloured necklace with a swastika pendant from its store, while denying that the symbol was a Nazi swastika.

The accessory, which was marketed at $2.50 and described as a “swastika pendant necklace”, was removed following an outcry led by social media influencers on Thursday afternoon.

Influencer Marissa Casey Grossman – who is known as Fashion Ambitionist on Instagram – shared a screenshot of the listing on Thursday with her 165,000 followers and wrote that she had “zero words”.

Fellow Instagram influencer Nabela Noor also called out Shein for “sheer ignorance and blatant disrespect”.

Stop Antisemitism, a American-Jewish organisation, also demanded that Shein “remove this item from their website as it represents the mass murder of millions.”

In a statement, Shein apologised and promised that to work “through our internal review structure and processes” to ensure that “we respect our diverse community.”

“For the record,” the statement said, “Shein was not selling a Nazi swastika pendant, the necklace is a Buddhist swastika which has symbolised spirituality and good fortune for more than a thousand years.

In Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, swastikas are associated with luck and prosperity, and the symbol has been used across Eurasia for thousands of years.

However, its adoption by the Nazi Party in 1920 has made the symbol irretrievably associated in much of the world with Nazism.    

Shein added: “As a multicultural and global brand, we want to apologise profusely to those who are offended, we are sensitive to these issues and want to be very clear that we in no way support or condone racial, cultural and religious prejudice and hostility.”          

According to a press release from May, the Chinese-based company said that it released over 500 new products to its website per day.

Shein has previously been sued for copyright infringement for lifting designs onto its products.

The necklace is the second item to cause outrage on Shein’s website within less than a week, after consumers remarked that the company was selling Islamic prayer mats branded as “fringe trim carpets.”

Other online retailers, such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy have also recently been criticised for hosting products associated with the far-right and Nazism. 

Products on Shein's website, however are curated and sold by the company itself, rather than by third-parties. 

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