Do I Have to Burn My Fred Perry Shirts Because the Proud Boys Adopted Them as Their Uniform?

As to whether to keep wearing your polos, I’d say it depends.

I have two Fred Perry shirts. Unfortunately, the Proud Boys have adopted this shirt as their gang uniform. I am NOT a Proud Boy—I'm female, queer and a Democrat. Do I have to burn my Fred Perry polo because those Trump-supporting dipshits usurped it? —Fred Perry Fan

If you think it sucks being stuck with two Fred Perry shirts, imagine what it's like being Fred Perry. Still, the apparel company founded in 1952 by the British tennis great is hardly the first brand to be embraced by a subculture it would just as soon not be associated with.

Doc Martens had to weather its association with skinheads. Burberry dialed back its famous tartan pattern to be less appealing to the British rednecks known as "chavs." And at one point, Abercrombie & Fitch offered the Situation (of Jersey Shore fame) $10,000 to stop wearing its products. It happens.

Fred Perry, for its part, has been at pains to dissociate itself from the Proud Boys' Kristallnacht-meets-Animal House antics. The company's chairman recently condemned the group as "counter to our beliefs," and brand ambassador Irvine Welsh (author of Trainspotting) has pledged not to wear Fred Perry in the U.S. as a (not exactly stinging) rebuke.

In a way, you almost feel sorry for right-wingers.* I'm sure they'd prefer to get their curb-stomping uniforms and Nuremberg rally sing-alongs from their own kind (they do love their own kind), but for some reason their ranks don't seem to include a whole lot of fashion designers and singer-songwriters.

Perhaps that's why the election year ritual of various musicians demanding that Republican candidates stop playing their songs at campaign events has become such a cliché. After all, if you try to make a playlist solely from artists who support Trump, you're pretty much stuck with the complete works of Wayne Newton and whatever's left of the Sonny Bono catalog after you take out everything involving Cher.

As to whether to keep wearing your polos, I'd say it depends. Recently, some Proud Boys have vowed to boycott Fred Perry for the crime of featuring models of color in their ads. I think we all like where this is heading, so if your look will piss them off in a comparable way, I say go for it. (Just, you know, be careful out there.)

* Just kidding, fuck 'em. 

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