The clothing retailer Zara has been forced to pull a T-shirt from its stores in Spain after campaigners branded the slogan as offensive to coeliacs. The plain white T-shirt carried the slogan 'Are you gluten free?' written in black capitals.
A petition was set up on the campaign website, change.org, with called for Zara to pull the T-shirts as they were deemed to be offensive to those suffering from coeliac disease – a condition which means the sufferer is hypersensitive to gluten and has digestive difficulties when they consume it. According to the NHS, 1 in 100 people in the UK has coeliac disease, which is not an allergy or intolerance to gluten.
In less than a week, the petition had reached over 50,000 signatures and Inditex released a statement saying that the T-shirt had been removed from online stores a few weeks previously and that they were currently making sure that it was not being sold in-store. "We sincerely regret that this case might be interpreted as a trivialization of coeliac disease, the absolute opposite of our intentions." said the statement, "We would like to apologies, in any case, if anyone interpreted the T-shirt in this way."
Speaking to thelocal.es, the petition's founder, Marta Casadesús, told how surprised she was that the campaign had taken off and had managed to push Zara into action so quickly: "The truth is that I just wanted Zara to reflect on the message, I was trying to explain that perhaps it wasn't the best way to make people aware of the illness."
"I was really surprised by Zara's quick response, both on change.org and in its actions, pulling the T-shirts from sale in its stores and online."
Recently, a new 'ungendered' Zara range caused controversy when commentators called it 'problematic' as the plain basics within the line were already considered genderless clothing items.