A weird new clothing brand want to reclaim the swastika

We're not buying it

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KA Design are a new clothing company based "somewhere in Europe" who appear to be on a mission to repurpose the swastika symbol. Associated with Nazism since Hitler used it as part of his  “Aryan identity” propaganda, the swastika's roots actually stretch as far back as 5,000 years. For centuries in India it was known as a symbol of good fortune.

However, KA Design are messy af, and they're currently going viral for all the wrong reasons. On a selection of grey t-shirts and sweatshirts they've stuck the swastika against a rainbow background, which they say symbolises the LGBT movement, and are calling their symbol the "new swastika". 

They've totally failed to recognise how problematic it is to be selling a t-shirt of this nature in Europe, where the wounds of Nazism are so fresh. Not only is it incredibly disrespectful to Jewish communities, it could also be looked at as being culturally appropriative from the Indian and Indonesian communities where it originates.

The swastika is still banned in Germany, and there were calls for that ban to be extended Europe-wide some years ago. It's also still used as a hate-symbol by neo-Nazis in many countries. In London there are often reports of the swastika being graffitied in Jewish areas

With cringey "zen", "love" and "peace" slogans, slapped on them as well our guess is that the $20 tees won't be selling out anytime soon. The idea is both crass and badly excecuted, even if KA do have good intentions.

Thankfully, at the moment the brand is being heavily schooled and trolled on Facebook, but Dazed decided to ask them a little bit more about their gross, controversial t-shirts (spoiler: none of the team are fashion designers).

Why do you think it's the right time to reclaim the swastika?

KA Designs: There is not a right time to reclaim the Swastika, or anything in general. Here at KA Design we think freedom is the most fundamental value to build our life upon. We could have made the decision to, as you say, "reclaim" the Swastika 10 years from now or 10 years ago. Or even the day after the fall of Nazism. We really like the symbol in its shape and aesthetics, and we would love to share the beauty of this symbol detached from the Hatred associated with it. This project only represents the first step of our "master plan", and we are excited about what the future will give us.

What makes the designs original? Who came up with them?

KA Designs: There is nothing new in the designs we have created. At the same time, they're totally innovative and original. The originality of the designs is caused by the unexpected association of meanings. People have never seen the colours from the peace flag (or from the LGBT community) and a Swastika (especially the one rotated by 45° used by Nazis) together. The final result is eye-catching and it is the cause of our campaign going viral.

What are your backgrounds in fashion?

KA Designs: Nobody here has previously worked in the fashion industry. On the other hand, everyone is highly interested in aesthetics and in the cult of beauty. We don't consider ourselves as skilled fashion designers, but more as artists and free thinkers in general.

How would you feel if the t-shirts were just bought by Nazis?

KA Designs: We wouldn't care. The aim of this project is not to generate profit, whatever the source of the money. Absolutely not. We think the message on our apparel is clear: peace, love and freedom win over hatred, war and prejudice. If some kind of neo-Nazi goes out wearing our shirt, he will raise the same kind of questions and discussions as a communist wearing the same shirt. That's why we don't care about who buys the shirts.

What do you say to the people who are offended by the images?

KA Designs: Here at KA Design we respect everyone's opinion. We don't want to be hypocrite. Freedom is a human value that should be equally shared by everyone. Considering the reactions to our campaign, we notice that people feel unsecure and even offended by our products. We understand every single one of these people. They don't want to break the strong bond between the symbol and the atrocities committed by Nazism. They all think we want to completely erase from the minds of everyone these facts.

In reality, we want to do the opposite. Us and them, we are on the same side, fighting for the same ideals.The new meanings given to "our Swastika" wouldn't make any sense if not based on the previous ones. We want to promote love and peace to remind everyone that mankind can be better that what it currently is and was in the past. It's not in our interest making everyone forget about this past.

Is there anything offensive that we can't reclaim?

KA Designs: We are free to reclaim whatever we want. However, it is very important to find the right way to do it without forgetting why this something is being reclaimed.

How are sales?

KA Designs: We can't tell you much about this aspect. It's natural to think that considering the context and the political and moral subject of our designs we can't expect more. People have never seen anything even resembling a Swastika in the fashion world for so much time and maybe that is one important reason for so many to be scared or hate what we offer. They don't feel free to wear this kind of apparel. We hope something will change in the future.

What's next?

KA Designs: We have some plans for the future that we are not going to reveal. We hope to be able to extend our Swastika line to new design concept and colors, while keeping our current peace message. Our dream is to feel free to use this symbol without any kind of limitation, however we prefer. We will also release some designs that don't involve a Swastika or anything similar.

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