The owners of an LGBT+ clothing line have firmly distanced themselves from the far-right hate group the Proud Boys after members appropriated its line of iconic yellow kilts.
Members of the group descended on Washington on 12 December for a pro-Trump march which quickly descended into a violent brawl. Twenty-three were arrested and four people were hospitalised with potentially life-threatening stab wounds, the Washington Post reported.
An enduring image of the march quickly circulated on social media: five Proud boys gathered in matching yellow and black kilts, along with their unofficial uniform of Fred Perry merchandise.
It was a sight that horrified owners of the online store Verillas, which instantly recognised the clothing as part of their line of unique modern kilts.
“In the first moments I thought we were doomed,” Verillas’ VP of marketing, Justin La Rose, told Dazed.
“I was looking at the scope of the replies and despairing at our lack of size and lack of voice. I had no idea how it could have happened – I felt like our views were transparent from our site.”
Verillas makes its pro-LGBT+ ethos abundantly clear and even sells kilts in rainbow, Trans Pride, and Bi Pride colourways. “It was insane to me that folks in that group could have used our stuff,” La Rose added.
Proud Boys kilt-maker ‘turns tainted money into something good’.
It’s not clear why the Proud Boys have chosen this moment to wear manly yellow skirts, but some speculated it could be an attempt to highlight their connections with the Ku Klux Klan through their Scottish heritage.
Regardless of their reasoning, Verillas was determined to sever any ties with the group. The company’s first instinct was to “turn the tainted money into something for good”, and within the hour it had turned the situation around.
“Disgusted to see members of a fascist terrorist organisation wearing our products,” it tweeted.
“We’re a LGBTQIA+ owned, operated, designed and lived. We’re against everything they stand for. I see $750 of our gear in that picture, and I just gave $1000 to the NAACP to redirect hate to love.”
Disgusted to see members of a fascist terrorist organization wearing our products. We’re a LGBTQIA+ owned, operated, designed and lived. We’re against everything they stand for. I see $750 of our gear in that picture, and I just gave $1000 to the NAACP to redirect hate to love. pic.twitter.com/der8zVSo7M
— Verillas (@Verillas) December 12, 2020
As Allister Greenbrier, owner of Verillas, explained: “It felt existentially wrong to be associated with that group of people and the first thing I realised is that taking gains from them was unacceptable.
“We weren’t satisfied with neutralising the situation, we had to counter it.”
The black and yellow kilt has now been discontinued.