Pin It
fred perry instagram campaign

Racist Fred Perry fans are boycotting the brand for casting black models

The British label’s model line-up is seemingly too diverse for them to handle

With Boris Johnson debuting a post-pandemic back-to-work plan that resembled a Nando’s spice chart and a bunch of people breaking social-distancing rules to do a conga in celebration of VE Day, you’d think the UK would have enough to be embarrassed about right now. Sadly, you’d be wrong. 

Over on TwitterFred Perry has come under fire from a bunch of racist trolls who have made it very clear they object to the diverse casting seen across the label’s Instagram account.

One user (whose account is now private) Tweeted several images of black models posted by the brand, adding that he was ‘no longer required as a customer’, while another said the campaign was ‘spreading diversity bollocks’. Others called for a boycott and that they would be throwing their FP clothes away, which, tbh, we imagine no one would lose any sleep over. It goes without saying that many of those offended had St. George and Union Jacks in their bios, because of course they did.

Founded by world champion tennis player Fred Perry in 1952, the label has been adopted by a number of British subcultures in the years since its inception. Its polo-shirts, parkas, and Harrington jackets have long been associated with the Mod, Ska, and Northern Soul scenes, as well as the Skinheads – all of which are widely known as multi-ethnic and multicultural movements.

Though the original Skinheads denounced fascism, the group divided in the 1970s as a subsection of its members swung to the far-right and joined the British National Front. In the time since, the label’s wreath-emblazoned polo shirts have been co-opted by the right not just in the UK but around the world. 

Over the years, Fred Perry has condemned these fascists and their views. In 2017, in response to footage of US-based extremist group the Proud Boys wearing their polos, Fred Perry chairman John Flynn told GQ ‘a little investigation into Fred the man would reveal a lot’. “Fred was the son of a working class socialist MP who became a world tennis champion at a time when tennis was an elitist sport. He started a business with a Jewish businessman from Eastern Europe. It’s a shame we even have to answer questions like this. No, we don’t support the ideals or the group that you speak of. It is counter to our beliefs and the people we work with,” he continued.

Unsurprisingly, a huge number of Fred Perry fans hit back against the racist Tweets that had earlier been posted. “Imagine yer da throwing away your Fred Perry because there’s not enough white people in the advert. WTF is wrong with people man,” said one, while another wrote: “Fred Perry’s always been important to me as it represents unity and diversity. Such a massive part of my identity as a skinhead. I’m sure it will be more than happy to lose those racists boycotting ‘cause of the models they use. Racism is the opposite of what we stand for.” 

We have reached out to Fred Perry for a statement but are yet to receive a response – although, realistically, it’s not hard to imagine what the brand would have to say about all this. And to the racists themselves? Take a day off, dickheads.

UPDATED ON MAY 15, 2020: Fred Perry have now responded to our request for a statement, telling us: “We believe actions speak louder than words. The images referenced yesterday are not a campaign. They are simply a selection of images of some of our models wearing our new releases. The Laurel Wreath has always been a symbol of both individuality and of belonging. Our real fans know what we stand for and their response to this speaks volumes. We don’t believe it is necessary to add anything to the statement our chairman, John Flynn, made in 2017.”