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Clothing Brand KA design on its Controversial Swastika-Themed Debut

Clothing Brand KA design on its Controversial Swastika-Themed Debut

Ka Design

"We have learned so much from this response and we hope to have raised some questions."

KA design, a new clothing brand whose membership and location remain a mystery, can modestly boast an acquired 1.4k reviews on its Facebook page. The comment section is rife with passion and it scrolls on and on.

It's just mostly outrage.

For their debut, KA design offered long and short-sleeved tees in three different lines: "Peace with Swastika," "Love with Swastika," and "Zen with Swastika." The reaction was so heated--fanned, too, by a call-out piece in Dazed--that KA pulled the lines and canceled future plans for any swastika theme.

Capitalizing words like Love and Freedom, KA design talked to us about controversy, symbolism, and answered the loaded question on everyone's mind: how would Hitler respond?

OUT: How did your idea to work with the swastika sprout and what went into tending it? Where do you want it to grow?

KA design: We really enjoy the Swastika symbol. Not because of any of the meanings associated with it, but because of the shape and how it looks. However, the strong bond between the Swastika and Nazi values was unbreakable. We didn't feel free. For the right reason.

So we ended up using this symbol with the aim of sharing its opposite values: Love, Peace and Freedom. Our project wants to express the victory of Love and Humanity against Hatred and Nazism in general.

The response has been viral. How do you view it, personally?

The response to our project has been interesting and frightening at the same time. Frightening and sad because our intention was fully positive and peaceful.

People called us Nazi.
People discriminated us.
People physically threatened us.
People hated us for our beliefs.

Maybe they are right when they say Nazism has won.
Hatred has won.
Anger has won.

We believe in a world of never ending kindness and infinite forgiveness.
And after all of that,
We ask forgiveness.

We have learned so much from this response and we hope to have raised some questions.

Our Swastika project has been terminated and we do not have plans of relaunching it right now.

How would Hitler respond?

If Hitler had the opportunity to see our project, we think he would hate us. He would hate us for "throwing dirt" on his symbol. As we all know, he didn't support the new values we have covered our "new Swastika" with. We would have ruined his symbol and consequently his values. It is unfortunate and sad that the majority of people reacted to our project with a similar hate and anger. We understand and accept everyone's opinion, but this kind of hateful response to our project of Peace has really saddened us. We forgive and we hope to be forgiven.

Was queer history during the Holocaust considered during this project? Does that history license queer artists to manipulate Nazi-associated imagery?

Everything was considered. Our project was based on these negative and hurtful events, in hope for a celebration of the victory of positive values like Freedom and Love.

An artist cannot "be licensed" to do anything.
An artist is free. Free to create whatever his/her Freedom tells him/her. An artist is able to manipulate anything and turn it into a piece of art.

What privileges and responsibilities should be upheld (or desecrated) by queer artists?

Let their freedom decide what they should uphold or desecrate.

What are the more resounding criticisms of your work? Are there any you particularly agree or disagree with?

We absolutely agree with every opinion, insult, threat we have received. We guess it totally depends on the mindset and on the point-of-view. A strong symbol like the Swastika triggers different reactions in different people. Someone can react with a laugh, someone else with an insult. Our goal is to make people question this laugh and this insult, and enrich their point of view to somethink bigger and deeper.

How do you navigate current attitudes toward appropriation?

We have no interest in the complete "appropriation" of the Swastika. We would love to make society look at it as a peaceful and cool-looking symbol to, for example, wear on a t-shirt. We do not want to make everyone forget about the atrocities committed by Nazism. People are afraid of that when they see what we are doing. Other people are afraid we want to create a new neo-nazi movement. On the contrary, we want to show how far we have gone from those values. We want to fully express the freedom reached by humanity.

What would you like OUT's audience to know?

We want to sincerely ask forgiveness to those who were troubled by our first project. Remember that we love all of you. Thank you.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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