LOWER MANHATTAN — Discount shopping hub Century 21 has yanked a line of T-shirts off its shelves after it was decried as offensive and racist.
The stereotype-laden T-shirt, from the DSquared2 “Jungle Love” collection, stunned a shopper who came across it hanging on the racks with a sale tag for $69.99 at the Century 21 store in Lower Manhattan last week.
The T-shirt features a cartoon of an brown-skinned man, holding bananas in both hands. It's part of a line of T-shirts that show the same character in a variety of poses, sometimes wearing a bunch of bananas as a loincloth or eyeing a cartoonish blond figure.
“My first reaction was, ‘Are they serious?’” said Ben Faulding, a biracial Crown Heights resident who posted an image of the shirt on Instagram after he spotted it, adding the caption “This shirt is being sold in NYC in 2016.”
“I get that they are trying to make a joke, but no! Just no,” he wrote of the design, which he said reminded him of an off-color Kent State sweatshirt sold — and then pulled — from Urban Outfitter’s website in 2014.
After DNAinfo New York sent the image of the DSquared2 shirt to Century 21 on Friday morning, the store opted to remove the T-shirt “immediately,” spokeswoman Heather Feinmel said.
"We understand that everyone is entitled to their own perception of designer’s visions. We have pulled this item from our inventory immediately,” Feinmel said in a statement.
This is not the first time the DSquared2 line has been pulled from a major department store. In 2014, the Swedish chain NK yanked the “Jungle Love” collection from their upscale Stockholm store, according to a Radio Sweden report.
The design group has taken heat for their fashion choices for years. In 2012, DSquared2’s Toronto-born founders, twin brothers Dean and Dan Caten, faced criticism for sending models out on the runway carrying cigarettes. Last spring, backlash over the duo’s “DSquaw” line — featuring clothing inspired by the “enchantment of Canadian Indian tribes,” a report from CBC said — was intense, leading an Alberta outlet to call the Catens a “big business of outrage.”
DQquared2 did not respond to inquiries from DNAinfo New York about the “Jungle Love” T-shirt.
For Faulding, Century 21’s decision to remove the shirt is a good one.
“It isn't about being politically incorrect,” he said. “It's just plain incorrect.”