PacSun removed a controversial t-shirt from store shelves and its website, following a complaint from customer in one of the Alabama locations. The black tee pictured an upside-down American flag, which was “prominently displayed” at the entrance of a PacSun store on Memorial Day weekend. The California-based retailer issued an apology Monday on its Facebook page, but not without a degree of debate that followed among social media users.
Rachel Zawacki-Kuss posted a photo of the Pacific Sunwear display to her Facebook account on Saturday, which quickly went viral. The shopper noticed the controversial t-shirt while shopping at the Tanger Outlets in Foley, Albama. She took offense at the timing of the presentation, which coincided with the celebration of the Memorial Day that honors serviceman past and present.
“I understand freedom of speech but this shirt, displayed prominently at the entrance of your store for Memorial Day weekend is more distasteful and disrespectful than anything I thought I’d see,” captioned the shopper’s post, “I will not be shopping at PacSun again.”
The New York Daily News reached out to the Foley PacSun store. An employee stated the black A$AP Rocky design was removed as soon as they received word of the customer’s complaint, but wouldn’t comment further. Neither did Rachel Zawacki-Kuss when approached for a reaction.
PacSun issued an apology on Memorial Day stating, “As a retailer grounded in youth culture, PacSun values artistic and creative expression through the brands that we sell in our stores. Out of respect for those who have put their lives on the line for our country, we have decided to stop selling the licensed flag t-shirt and are removing it from our stores and website immediately. We thank the men and women in uniform for their extraordinary service.” However for many, the timing was off.
During the occasion where the majority of social media posts thanked the military for their service, many took offense at the timing of the sale, and the lack of respect for what the American flag means. A debate raged on, and still does under PacSun’s explanation. Hundreds of comments and replies range from supportive, stating an upside down flag signifies distress, which the country is in, to one’s right for artistic expression, to veterans declaring the apology was “too little, too late, to others simply suggesting PacSun should have refrained from selling the upside-down t-shirt during the Memorial Day holiday.