Five Racist Brands That Got Asian Wrong


Warning: Some images and phrases may be offensive and not safe for work

1) Abercrombie & Fitch

Abercrombie & Fitch Racist Shirt

The preppy retailer released a line of T-shirts in 2002 featuring such phrases as “Buddha Bash” and “Wong Brothers Laundry Service.” The clothier, best known for its shirtless white models, loud music, and fragrant interiors, for its part, thought “Asians would love this T-shirt,” according to a public relations firm, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The shirts depicted Asian caricatures with squinty eyes, long front teeth and rice paddy hats. After an unexpected (somehow) outrage, Abercrombie & Fitch made the un-apology of saying they were sorry people felt this way. In an effort to change this, stores have been soliciting people of color, according to a source familiar with the practice. This reporter was even accosted twice at two separate Hollister (a subsidiary of Abercrombie & Fitch) locations with unsolicited job offers, which isn’t inclusive, but creepy.

2) Spencer’s Gifts

Spencer's Gifts Racist Shirt

A staple among America’s malls, Spencer’s Gifts specializes in gag gifts and weird paraphernalia, including a line of racist soft goods. Items on the offender list includes a hat with an image of Buddha and the phrase “I May Be Fat But My Cock is Huge” and a T-shirt with an Asian caricature and the phrase “Hang Out With Your Wang Out.”

This might not surprise those who visit Spencer’s Gifts, as most of the products on offer are borderline perverse to begin with. But the clothing mentioned above was from 2006. Today, Spencer’s Gifts continues to offend with a line of shirts with slogans like “Mama Bang’s Massage Parlor,” written in Chinese takeout script and featuring a geisha-like character. And “Chow Mai Cock,” which uses the same typeface and features a box of takeout noodles. Offended? Tell Spencer’s Gifts about it using the contact form at the bottom of the page.

3) Slanties

Slanties Racist Sunglasses

Slanties, which claimed to be based on “ancient Inuit eyewear,” are wood-crafted sunglasses with small slivers to see through. The appearance is a slightly disturbing mockery of Asian people (and/or aliens) and, at $75 per pair, seemed like a bad idea from the start. The website is no longer available, but the horrible idea, and its unfortunately racist name, will continue to haunt its founders for eternity.

4) Baker Skateboards

Baker Skateboards Racist Shirt

In a recent display of racism, Baker Skateboards produced (and still seems to be selling) a T-shirt modeled after the Dukes of Hazzard. It features a modern Japanese orange car and two Asian men with the phrase, “The G**ks of Hazzard.” Either the company is channeling Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino, or this company is one of the most insensitive on this list.

According to the Christian Post, the Asian American Justice Center “has called for the shirt to be recalled, in light of its blatant racism.” Instead of baking, maybe Don Nguyen and Daniel Shimizu, the creators of the shirt, should take a cue from history and stop encouraging and selling racist products.

5) Victoria’s Secret

Victoria's Secret racist lingerie

One of the largest retailers of women’s undergarments, Victoria’s Secret, pulled its new “Sexy Little Geisha” lingerie, following community backlash. Part of the “Go East” campaign, the lingerie features an obi-like sash, cherry blossom motif and exaggerated bow, with matching chopsticks and folding fan. Racialicious contributor Nina Jacinto, one of the first to break the story last month, describes the campaign this way: “There’s a long-standing trend to represent Asian women as hyper-sexualized objects of fantasy, so it’s telling that none of the models wearing the ‘Go East’ collection appear to be Asian.”

CNN concurs. In an interview with Cornell University academic researcher Minh-Ha Pham, Pham calls the advertising part of the “racial drag” that stretches back to the Vaudeville days of the early 1900s and to movies like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the forthcoming Cloud Atlas. “Playing Oriental,” Pham says, “is clearly a part of that wheelhouse” of “fantasy and fetish.”

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Photos (from top to bottom): Abercrombie & Fitch, Spencer’s Gifts, Slanties, Baker Skateboards, Victoria’s Secret

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