Women says shirt sold at Forever 21 displays racist symbols

Posted at 7:30 PM, Mar 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-14 19:30:35-04

MODESTO, Calif. — A nationwide clothing chain is facing fresh allegations that the messages on their T-shirts are political and hateful.

Forever 21 is the chain. And the shirt at the center of the controversy is called the "famous graphic tee."

At first glance it's just a T-shirt. But at second glance that's not what Stella Lopez and Amie Alton saw.

"It's definitely Nazi propaganda," Alton said.

She was shopping with Lopez Sunday when the shirt caught her eye.

"Those are huge symbols of hate," Lopez said.

What stood out to Alton first was the number 88. It's randomly scattered across the shirt in a prominent font.

Eighty-eight is a well documented tag in white supremacist circles. H is the eighth letter in the alphabet, and two H's are short for an infamous Nazi salute.

"I've seen that tagged on stuff growing up, and know what that is," said Alton. "It stands for HH, 'Heil Hitler.' And the lightning bolt stands for the SS from the Third Reich."

The lightning bolt is normally pictured in pairs to suggest white supremacy, and only appears as a single symbol on the shirt.

But combined with the numbers and slogans like "do it with passion" and "88 forever," the women say it was pretty clear.

"I just took the stack of shirts and told the guy about it that was working at the store, and gave him a little background history which he did not know about. And he set them behind the counter," Alton said.

FOX40 reached out to Forever 21 in email as they recommend and through social media, but no one answered our questions about the meaning of the shirt.

So then we went shopping. In the Modesto, California, mall where the women found the shirts, we could no longer find them.

But a different version, a hoodie for men, was still for sale there.

And the women's shirt is still for sale online, going for $16.90.

"There's a lot of anger right now in our country. And there's potential there's going to be violence because of this," Lopez said.

Alton puts it more simply.

"Facism isn't fashion," she said.

All Forever 21 could to do to get them back as customers, say the women, is donate any profits from this shirt to a Jewish charity.