Clothing retailer PacSun removed a controversial upside-down American flag T-shirt from its stores after receiving massive consumer backlash on Memorial Day.
The T-shirt, which features a black-and-white upside-down flag, first gained attention after an astute shopper noticed it was being displayed as part of a Memorial Day sale at the Tanger Outlets store in Foley, Alabama. Rachel Zawacki-Kuss uploaded a picture of the shirt to Facebook, and by Monday, the company was at the center of a social media firestorm.
PacSun issued a statement late Monday night saying the company would discontinue selling the T-shirt, both in stores and online:
As a retailer grounded in youth culture, PacSun values artistic and creative expression through the brands that we sell in our stores. Out of respect for those who have put their lives on the line for our country, we have decided to stop selling the licensed flag t-shirt and are removing it from our stores and website immediately. We thank the men and women in uniform for their extraordinary service.
The shirt had drawn considerable criticism on social media before the company’s decision to discontinue its sale. Actor James Woods called PacSun “corporate scum“:
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) May 26, 2015
“As a Veteran who has lost Veterans, all I feel when seeing a shirt like this on display at an establishment I have purchased from before, is shame,” Jess Leigh wrote in her review on the item page, which now appears to have been removed. “I don’t wish upon anyone from this company to have to ever hear a 21 gun salute- but if they ever do, rest assure [sic] they wont continue to think this shirt is very cute. I am ashamed of Pac Sun. Done.”
The U.S. Flag Code, Title 4, Chapter 1 stipulates that “the flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.”
The T-shirt was designed in collaboration with rapper A$AP Rocky and featured the name “A$AP” on the back with the number “06” below it. According to the Daily Mail, another shirt featuring a right-side-up American flag alongside the rapper’s likeness has also been pulled from both online and retail stores.