I've found it—the stupidest "social justice" controversy of the week. That's a high bar, of course, but I believe this saga of retail #resistance clears it. Ready?
Keyboard warriors have convinced international clothing company Zara to pull a limited-edition denim dress designed by Spanish pop artist Mario de Santiago, who goes by the name Yime. His sin? The dress featured two frogs.
According to the London-based artist—whose work is full of whimsical, cartoonish animals and figures—the idea for the frog dress "came from a wall painting I drew with friends four years ago." It was part of a collection of "Oil on Denim" design collaborations between Zara and independent artists, featuring images including four-eyed Japanese women, dying birds, smiley faces, panthers, skulls…and the ill-fated amphibians.
It seems that to folks on social media, the pair looked a little too much like Pepe, the innocent cartoon turned all-purpose meme turned alt-right mascot. During the 2016 election, Pepe earned the ire of no less than Hillary Clinton herself, as well as denunciation as a hate-group symbol by the quacks at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
It would be weird for a moderately high-end fashion brand to carry Pepe-themed womenswear, sure, but not necessarily an endorsement of anything (perhaps the designer's intention is to skewer the alt-right, reclaim Pepe, or simply use relevant pop-cultural images in their work). There are all sorts of ways once can read the appearance of Pepe in a decidedly non-Trump or non-alt-right-related context, and to those other than professional grievancemongers this should be apparent.
In any event, those who find the shirt distasteful are free to ignore it, thereby not heaping more attention on the offensive artist/company nor clogging up people's limited outrage capacity with things that make no goddamn material difference in the world.
The frogs on the Yime/Zara dress aren't even intended to portray Pepe, however. They don't look much like the alt-right icon in the first place, aside from general frogginess, and the artist has explicitly stated that "there is absolutely no link to the suggested theme."
Nevertheless, the social-media outrage persisted—prompting Zara to pull the skirt. While the rest of the Oil on Denim collection remains intact on the Zara website, the denim dress featuring frogs is nowhere to be found. Good job, internet liberals, you got huge clothing conglomerate to stop selling one of its few works benefiting indie creators! But at least you all got some Twitter faves, right?
— NYLON (@NylonMag) April 18, 2017
— Miss Representation (@RepresentPledge) April 18, 2017
— Glamour (@glamourmag) April 18, 2017