The internet has been buzzing with controversy over a t-shirt introduced by the clothing retailer, Gap as part of a partnership with GQ Magazine to showcase new designers. A shirt designed by Mark McNairy for the “Gap x GQ” collection boasts the phrase, “Manifest Destiny.”
The slogan irked consumers, who associate the term with a racist mid-19th century ideology that led to the enslavement and removal of Native Americans. More than 5,000 people signed an online petition demanding Gap discontinue sales of the shirt and issue a formal apology.
Gap responded by pulling the item from its warehouses and directing stores to remove it from shelves. The retailer issued a statement via Facebook, apologizing for the offense and saying insensitivity was never their intention. “We are also focusing on how we select product designs for these types of partnerships in the future,” says the statement. Yeah, like maybe run some slogans by your grandma before entering into mass production?
For their part, Gap’s marketers didn’t seem totally unaware of the historical root of the rally call. Shine reports the shirt was described online as “rebellious and playful,” and the designer McNairy lauded as having a “left-of-center spirit.” In reaction to consumer outrage, McNairy first tweeted, “MANIFEST DESTINY. SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST” before ultimately removing the tweet and issuing an apology.