The Twitter-sphere erupted in disgust this week when a Zara customer spotted the Pepe the Frog meme—that has been significantly associated with white supremacy--on a denim skirt online. The product has since been removed.
While the cartoon started out as a harmless meme, it was eventually adopted by the Alt-Right and began to be used in racist contexts. In 2016, the green frog face was added to the Anti-Defamation League's list of hate symbols, alongside the swastika and Confederate flag.
The ADL stated, "The Pepe the Frog character did not originally have racist or anti-Semitic connotations. Internet users appropriated the character and turned him into a meme, placing the frog in a variety of circumstances and saying many different things. In recent years, with the growth of the 'alt-right' segment of the white supremacist movement ... the number of 'alt-right' pepe memes has grown, a tendency exacerbated by the controversial and contentious 2016 presidential election.
"Though Pepe memes have many defenders, the use of racist and bigoted versions of Pepe memes seems to be increasing, not decreasing," it added.
So, as you can imagine Twitter users had plenty to say to Zara about the move.
Zara is really out there trying to sell a P*pe the frog skirt, apparently unaware (?) of its current implications https://t.co/gQ3bimsdg2— meagan 🥀 (@meaganrosae) April 18, 2017
@ZARA Seriously? Pepe the Frog? Alt Right? That's who your target customers are? Me and my wallet will be shopping elsewhere.— Gina (@Gina02301885) April 19, 2017
Zara receiving huge backlash over a skirt featuring Pepe the frog hahahaha I don't know whether to laugh or cry— adrienne 🌹 (@fermiparadox_) April 18, 2017
@ZARA why do you put swastikas on your purses and pepe the frog on skirts? Are you pro-NAZI, or just ignorant? You keep doing this shit. NO!— Keith McFarland (@KeithMcFarland) April 19, 2017
Anyone who's surprised about Zara's Pepe the frog skirt probably doesn't remember this. I do. pic.twitter.com/GDaWmXSJng— OhNoSheTwitnt (@OhNoSheTwitnt) April 18, 2017
This isn't the first time Zara has been on thin ice. In 2014, the brand had to apologize for a shirt design that many consumers said looked similar to the uniform Jews were forced to wear in concentration camps during the Holocaust, and in 2007 the store pulled a handbag with a symbol that resembled a swastika. Oh, and we're going to go ahead and mention the dead rat a woman recently found sewn into her coat.
The skirt, which Zara has said, "has absolutely no link" with Pepe the Frog, is off the market in the United States, but remains available in Spain and Denmark.