America retail giant Sears has taken down controversial, ‘Free Palestine, End Israel Occupation’ T-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies from German apparel label, Spreadshirt Collection and City Shirts.
In a statement released by Sears CEO, Eddie Lampert , the offending items were removed based on excessive feedback the company received.
“This item is sold by a third-party seller via the Sears Marketplace. Given the feedback we’ve received, it is being removed. That said, we believe we’re being unfairly singled out on this issue given that these same items are available on Amazon, Walmart.com and eBay. It’s very important to note that we serve a broad base of customers around the country and around the world, and employ people around the world, including nearly 200 in Israel.”
Indeed, when JBN did searches on bother Walmart and Amazon and as Sears mentioned in their statement, the same offensive apparel appears. In Amazon, one of the labels providing “Free Palestine, End Israel Occupation” apparel, is the same label that was removed from Sears, the German apparel label, Spreadshirt Collection.
The product description on the item says, “Free Palestine! End Israeli Occupation! Statement design about the Arab–Israeli conflict. This is our best seller for a reason.”
The statement went on to say that Sears serves “a broad base of customers around the country and around the world,” and that it has 200 employees in Israel.
Lena Munjal is the senior Vice President of Customer Experience at Sears who was instrumental in making sure that the offending apparel was removed. She can be reached at LMunjal@SearsHC.com for any follow up that customers may have.
Earlier UPDATE: JBN contacted Sears about selling ‘Free Palestine, End Israel Occupation’ clothing apparel on their website. A customer relations agent named Rachel was asked about the offensive apparel and did not seem to have any information, she recommended calling “Sears corporate”. JBN asked for the matter to be escalated to a floor supervisor. The matter was elevated to floor supervisor Dorman, who said that they are working with their technical team to remove the offensive items and that they would be down within a few hours. below is the entire chat with the Sears customer relations agent and the floor supervisor.
America retail giant Sears is known for being as American as apple pie and for selling tools and hardware as well as “the softer side” of things, such as clothing apparel, but many were shocked to find out from a Reuters report that Sears is now selling controversial, ‘Free Palestine, End Israel Occupation’ shirts showing all of Israel as ‘Palestine’ on their website.
Shirts marketed by two separate clothing lables— Spreadshirt Collection and City Shirts — are now being being sold on Sears.com.
Both labels sell the shirts in various sizes and styles with pictures of a fist featuring messages like “Free Palestine, End Israel Occupation” clothing apparel up for sale on its website. The apparel includes hoodies, T-shirts and tank tops. The apparel has slogans which include slogans like “Free Palestine”, “End Israel Occupation” & “Free Gaza”. Some of the shirts even feature the Palestine Liberation Organization flag
Some shirts have a map in the shape of Israel, but the the entire country of “Palestine” is named on it.
In a statement on its website, the German based clothing manufacturer, Spreadshirt Collection, calls themselves a “global platform for personalized clothing and accessories, we are the go-to-place for anyone looking to realize their creative ideas on quality fabrics. We value freedom of expression, whether it’s with your own designs or those made available by our community.”
The company’s code of responsibility says that they do not produce apparel that is “bound to offend people.” Although apparently they seem to have offended many.
“Just like with other things in democracy, there are natural limits to our freedom of expression. We do not print things that are bound to offend people, e.g. pornographic material and content designed to insult and discriminate against genders or religious and ethnic groups. We won’t print anything that’s not right and fair. Above all, a code of ethics applies. This implies that we do not condone any designs displaying hate and contempt for others,” Spreadshirt Collection’s statement said.