Zara puts Pepe the Frog lookalike on a skirt

They meme business

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Frog meme Pepe looks set to reach new levels of fame thanks to high street brand Zara – which is selling a denim skirt complete with a motif that bears a striking resemblance to the controversial amphibian. Once a beloved character, Pepe has garnered lots of attention in the past year (especially around the US election) and a few months ago was declared a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League. Alt-right leader Richard Spencer was infamously punched in the face by a protester after Trump’s inauguration wearing a Pepe pin.

How did Pepe go from lovable sad frog to Anti-Semitic meme? Created in 2005 by Matt Furie, Pepe rose to fame on sites like 4chan and became popularly used – even by celebrities like Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry. However, reports from Hillary Clinton’s campaign website that Pepe was being promoted by Trump increased interest from the alt-right and white supremacist groups. They claimed Pepe as their own, have portrayed him with Trump hair, and even say the ‘great meme war’ won the election.

Fashion and music writer Meagan Fredette took to Twitter to when she discovered the skirt. 

“My immediate thought was holy shit, they have no idea what they are doing here, do they?” she said of the skirt, which seems to show a sunglass-wearing Pepe in his feels good / bad man form. “Given their history of apparently discriminating against black customers” (which the company denied) “they are trying to be edgy here, without caring about the very real implications of their design. Flirting with racial controversy is not a good business tactic.” 

This isn’t the first time Zara has found itself in a bad taste row, having previously come under fire for its ‘concentration camp’ t-shirt (that was removed from its website), and the unfortunate New-Yorker who found a mouse sewn into her skirt. Not to mention the constant criticism it has received from fashion brands for copying looks directly from their collections and reproducing them for Zara stores. 

We have reached out to Zara for comment. As Fredette put it: “surely somebody must have thought maybe this isn’t such a good idea.”

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