A pair of patterned leggings are causing trouble over at Nike. The tattoo-like print on the brand's Pro Tattoo Tech Tights has sparked ire in Australia and New Zealand for its similarity to pe'a, the traditional male tattoo of Samoa.
New Zealand's ONE News reports that Nike's placement of the traditionally male print on women's leggings was seen as offensive, and many in the Pacific community have found use of the print to be exploitative in the first place. "Before you launch into something like this, there's generally a consultation with those whose pattern have ownership..." New Zealand parliament member Su'a William Sio told ONE News, "I don't think Nike has taken the time to do that."
The Nike Pro Tattoo Tech collection debuted over a month ago, and the inspiration taken from tatau of Fiji, Samoa, and New Zealand was noted from the outset. But a Change.org petition posted in early August protested the leggings as a "direct violation of the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific, and is furthermore in violation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples."
After the petition gained about 750 signatures, Nike pulled the leggings, saying in a statement, "The Nike Tattoo Tech collection was inspired by tattoo graphics. We apologize to anyone who views this design as insensitive to any specific culture. No offense was intended."
Nike isn't new to the product-pulling game, unfortunately. The sports mega-brand came under fire in 2012 for its "Black and Tan" sneakers, which offended shoppers in Ireland, and offended women just a few months later with a "Gold Digging" t-shirt.
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