Retail clothing company Tillys has infuriated Asian Americans after a “racist” shirt appeared on the shelves of a Fresno, California outlet.
The graphic men’s T-shirt, spotted at the Tillys in Riverpark, depicts the Laughing Buddha as having gone to a Chinese buffet and takeout, with surrounding words written in chopstick font.
The shirt carries the random words, “chin tu fat” that perhaps is calling the Buddha’s “chin too fat.”
There is also an insensitive pun in the design, targeting the mispronunciation of the “L” sound by deliberately misspelling “Wok In” and “Wok Out.”
“The shirt is offensive. It’s not something that’s a joke that should be taken lightly,” Gena Gong, an Asian American studies lecturer, told KSEE. “Images like that just perpetuate stereotypes about Asian Americans that we’re all foreigners, that we don’t speak English.”
Gong recalled Abercrombie & Fitch having “very similar-looking T-shirts” about 20 years ago, but those items were pulled out after a group of students protested against them.
“I know in the case of Abercrombie the people who made the shirt and approved it thought that it would appeal to the Asian Americans with a sense of humor, which it does not.”
KSEE reported that others they spoke to also claimed seeing the same shirt at a Tillys in Los Angeles. Now, they demand the retailer to discontinue the product and apologize to the Asian American community.
“My children are part Japanese, so I do find it offensive,” Valley resident Rebecca Gutknecht told KSEE. “There is no reason for anything to be so offensive.”
The shirt, produced under the brand Blue Crown, appears to have been taken off Tillys’ online store as of Wednesday, Design Taxi reported.
Apparently, Tillys has been selling the shirt as early as August 2018, according to a past tweet calling for a boycott of Tillys.
— maxxie (@drivelikexdo) August 29, 2018
Other tweets show a variation of the shirt being sold in its stores and Amazon, but it’s unclear if this version is available elsewhere.
— StueyMatsui (@StueyMatsui) April 21, 2019
— joliverr🌷 (@joliverr99) August 14, 2019