It is said that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. Though this next lesson is not a well-known adage, clothing retailer Under Armour is learning that those who mock history are doomed to face backlash.
The athletic apparel company recently began selling a t-shirt called “Band of Ballers,” which featured the silhouettes of men in the process of raising a basketball net. The image was intended to be reminiscent of the famous picture that captured a group of military men raising the American flag after the battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.
“Under Armour has the utmost respect and admiration for active duty service men and women and veterans who have served our country,” it said. “We deeply regret and apologize the release of a shirt that is not reflective of our commitment to support & honor our country's heroes. We have taken the necessary steps to remove this shirt, and any related shirts, from all retail and ensure this doesn't happen again.”
While some were satisfied with the company’s apology and course of action, others said the gaffe has led them to boycott the company. Still, others said they never found the image offensive to begin with. “As a 24 yr vet of the US Air Force I don't see it as direspectfull (sic). ..it's a symbol of teamwork and paying homage to the iconic image….I like the design and will probably buy one,” writes one Facebook user.
This is hardly the first time a popular clothing retailer’s designs have landed a company in controversy. Urban Outfitters has been a hotbed of contention over the years, peddling t-shirts that are eerily similar to concentration camp uniforms in Nazi Germany to clothes advising customers to “Eat less.”