Shein, a fashion retailer, has apologized after selling a swastika necklace on its website and inciting backlash.
“We made a gigantic mistake by selling a product that’s hurtful and offensive to many of you, and we’re so, so sorry,” the brand said in a statement Friday. “Here’s what happened: We listed a Buddhist swastika necklace for sale. There’s simply no excuse for our lack of sensitivity in doing so. The item was removed as soon as we discovered the mistake.”
On Thursday, an Instagram post showed a picture of the swastika pendant necklace being sold on Shein’s website, with the user commenting “I am disgusted.”
People took took to Twitter and Instagram to criticize the retailer.
“This is ACTIVELY THREATENING to the Jewish community,” one user wrote on Twitter. “Do NOT let Shein get away with this.”
A Shein spokesperson said the necklace was supposed to be a “Buddhist swastika which has symbolized spirituality and good fortune,’ according to The New York Post.
“For the record, Shein was not selling a Nazi swastika pendant, the necklace is a Buddhist swastika which has symbolized spirituality and good fortune for more than a thousand years,” the spokesperson told The New York Post. “The Nazi swastika has a different design, it is pointed clockwise and tilted at an angle. However, because we understand the two symbols can be confused and one is highly offensive, we have removed the product from our site.”
In Buddhism, the swastika represents Buddha’s footprints, and the word in Sanskrit means “conducive to well-being,” according to Quartz. It has appeared in other cultures around the world as well.
Nazi party leader Adolf Hitler used the symbol to try to draw people to his xenophobic cause, taking a black swastika rotated 45 degrees and putting it against a red background in the early 20th century, Quartz reported.
Shein also sparked outrage last week for another reason, after selling what looked like Muslim prayer mats on its website and listing them as “fringe trim carpets.”
A user posted on Instagram with photos of the mats from Shein’s website.
The brand apologized and removed the prayer mats from its site.
“To our community — we made a serious mistake recently by selling prayer mats as decorative rugs on our site. We understand this was a highly offensive oversight and are truly sorry,” Shein wrote in a statement.