Topman appears to have taken action to remove a controversial “96 karma” t-shirt from its website amid accusations from Liverpool fans that the garment mocked the victims of the Hillsborough stadium disaster.
There is no suggestion that Topman deliberately made a reference to the incident, but the coincidences are too much to ignore.
The red top features the number “96” emblazoned on its back in white numbers with a white rose alongside them. 96 people lost their lives in the 1989 stadium disaster.
Underneath the design, it says: “What goes around comes back around”. Also written down the sleeve is the word “Karma” – two common and dispicable responses among trolls referencing the Hillsborough incident.
Fans on Twitter have, understandably, reacted with anger:
@Topman It’s quite clearly a reference to Hillsborough. So many trolls on here mocking the victims and the good people of Liverpool. Makes me sick to my stomach. Get rid of it. #topman #boycott pic.twitter.com/Bf7o2prTAa
— Graham Walker (@G_WalkerJr) March 15, 2018
@Topman Seriously? This is abhorrently offensive to those 96 Liverpool FC supports who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster…
"What goes around comes around"
What in the actual fuck were you thinking with this?
Titled "Red 'Goes Around' T-shirt' on your site. pic.twitter.com/qqHl7eIIQS
— TheRightOne (@TheRightOne999) March 15, 2018
#Topman are you fucking kidding me with that top! Disrespectful, disgusting and completely out of order! I will not be letting any of my male friends near your brand and I will never go into a @Topshop again! You make me sick… and I’m not even a Liverpool fan!
— Lou (@Louise_Weezie85) March 15, 2018
Exactly. It has to be intentional as it literally couldn't be any more offensive to a Liverpool fan. Too many factors to be a coincidence.
— Mark Rennie (@doinel74) March 15, 2018
They haven’t meant to, I’m sure of it. The designer needs the anger. They’ve seen it and not thought of it that way. We Liverpool fans obviously will because of Hillsborough and the 96. As I said, apology and info on what they plan to do with the designer and it’s sound.
— Pᵒrl (@nazenanip4ul) March 15, 2018
Topman has so far failed to explain the significance of these words in the context of the t-shirt’s design but has opted to remove the item from sale. One suggestion is that the quotes are a reference to a Bob Marley song but that fails to explain the red and white colouring.
The t-shirt had previously been selling well on the site, where it was priced at around £20. There is no word yet on whether the item has been removed permanently. This isn’t the first time a major clothes retailer has come under fire for offensive garments.
Primark was previously criticised for stocking a Walking Dead t-shirt carrying what some felt was a racist message. That t-shirt also ended up being removed from stock.
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Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.