ABERCROMBIE & FITCH PULLS T-SHIRT LINE AFTER PROTEST

Asian Americans Accused Retailer of 'Insensitivity'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch pulled from its stores and Web site new -- and controversial -- t-shirts after Asian Americans started an e-mail campaign this week accusing the retailer of "insensitivity."

The t-shirts, which sell for $25, depicted caricatures of Asian Americans, such as a partly clad geisha-like woman.

'Wok-N-Bowl'
One t-shirt shows two smiling, slanty-eyed men in conical hats and the words "Wong Brothers Laundry Service -- Two Wongs Can Make It Right." Another t-shirt bears the slogan "Wok-N-Bowl -- Let the Good Times Roll -- Chinese Food & Bowling."

"These graphic T-shirts were designed with the sole purpose of adding humor and levity to our fashion line," said Hampton Carney, an Abercrombie & Fitch spokesman, in a company statement. "Since some customers have been offended by their content, we are pulling these shirts from our stores."

Factor, an Asian-American

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marketing agency that opened last month, is rallying support to run a national newspaper ad urging corporate executives to show greater sensitivity and awareness of cultural diversity in their marketing efforts.

"We're talking with the [Asian American Advertising Federation] and looking for funding from Asian organizations," said Wendy Chan, Factor's president. "We hope the ad runs in a couple weeks."

She said Factor, based in New York, has started the creative work.

'Insensitive'
"They're ignorant in the assumption that this is tongue-in-cheek [humor] when it's really insensitivity," Ms. Chan said. "This could have been prevented if corporate America understood the demographics."

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