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Acid Attack t-shirt
Awareness tees

Why is a weird t-shirt company making £££ from acid attacks?

The clothes are seemingly being targeted at people on Facebook, say they give 10 per cent of proceeds to Women's Aid, all feels very weird

Update: on July 24 Women's Aid reached out to Dazed with a statement regarding their involvement with Awareness Tees.

“Women’s Aid has not been contacted by the company with regards to being associated with or receive proceeds from this line of merchandise.

Women’s Aid is extremely concerned about the rise in acid attacks in the UK, especially in cases where acid is being used by perpetrators of domestic abuse. We know that on average two women a week are killed by their partner or ex-partner in the UK alone, and that abusers are willing to go to extremes to take revenge and exert control. Acid attacks are becoming another vehicle for the abuser to threaten and control or, in the worst cases, act on their threats to create further pain and lasting scars.

While Women’s Aid will be using our voice to put pressure on the Government to pass legislation to regulate the sale of acid to put a stop to acid attacks, Women’s Aid does not support profiteering from taking a stance against this horrific crime and will are trying to contact the company to request that they remove the association between this merchandise and our charity, an association which we have not consented to.”

As you probably know there has been a recent, tragic rise in acid attacks in London. Now it feels like someone’s trying to capitalise on it. Awareness Tees, a company whose other output includes a World Autism Day shirt that doesn’t appear to give any money to charity, have brought out a line for ‘acid attack awareness’. The collection, which features t-shirts and mugs emblazoned with “STOP ACID ATTACK” only has one design that actually donates any money to any charity – 10 per cent to Women’s Aid, a noble cause, but not one that’s necessarily relevant. A recent investigation found that most acid attack victims are actually men. In any case, 10 per cent feels like a measly donation, but there are other charities that do work actively to prevent acid attacks and improve the lives of victims.

As well as the obvious issue of Awareness Tees donating very little of their profits to a mostly irrelevant charity, there’s a problem with the design. On one hand “STOP ACID ATTACKS”, while succinct, isn’t particularly sensitive or helpful. On the other, the design that features a cartoon woman crying with half of her face burned off, feels distasteful to anyone who}s a

The tshirt has been appearing as a targeted ad on Facebook. It’s unclear as to why, and further digging makes it clear that Awareness Tees are potentially not even a registered company – they have no website, no Twitter, no contact form, no records. The only evidence of them existing is a Facebook page with posts from two years ago featuring clothes dedicated to “Down Syndrome Moms” (which again is appealing to and capitalising on people's emotions) and a few product pages on sites such as Amazon, some of which no are no longer active

Their name is highly generic, which is likely intentional as a way to either get more views or hide in the masses of “awareness tees”-related companies out there. The company appear to be US-based (as indicated in their spelling across websites) but there is no evidence. If they aren't based in the UK, which is likely, it makes their acid attack t-shirts seem even more opportunistic – they state on the product page: “acid attacks in London are largely concentrated in the city’s east. We need more awareness to stop acid attacks”.

These latest t-shirts feed into a general trend for fashion capitalising on activism; t-shirts bearing the words FEMINIST or EQUAL RIGHTS that don’t actually donate or help anyone.

In the wake of Brexit and Trump, allies wore safety pins to demonstrate that they were supportive of immigrants, and companies quickly hopped on the trend to make expensive safety pin-themed jewellery that didn’t help immigrants whatsoever. While “feminist” t-shirts made by companies that employ women working in horrendous conditions in other countries is grimly ironic, there is something particularly opportunistic about using a very recent rise in acid attacks to make money. It’s also worth noting that in this case, “awareness” isn’t particularly helpful – we know acid attacks are happening and they happen to people just walking down the street. It’s impossible to avoid. What we do need is information about how to deal with them, and increased pressure on lawmakers to prohibit the sale of acid to those without a licence.

Dazed reached out to Awareness Tees for a comment via their Facebook page but has not received a response.