Global fashion chain Zara pulled from sale on Wednesday a striped children's top decorated with a large six-pointed star after it was likened to uniforms worn by Jewish concentration camp inmates during the reign of Nazi Germany.
The shirt, bearing horizontal blue and white stripes, was on sale online in three European countries but not in Israel, a spokeswoman said. The resemblance was unintentional and the design had been inspired by sheriff's stars from classic Western films, she said.
Within hours of the t-shirt being put up for sale, some newspapers had picked up on its resemblance to concentration camp uniforms and messages were posted on Twitter criticizing the design.
"The shirt bears a large six-pointed star on the upper-left section, in the exact place where Nazis forced Jews to wear the Star of David," wrote Israeli newspaper Haaretz, calling the garment "hauntingly reminiscent of a darker era".
On its website, Haaretz displayed a photograph of part of a uniform worn by prisoners at Auschwitz, showing a jacket with vertical green and white stripes and a yellow star below the left shoulder bearing the word "Jude", the German word for Jew.
The company apologized on Twitter, writing "We honestly apologize, it was inspired by the sheriff’s stars from the Classic Western films and is no longer in our stores."
During the Holocaust, prisoners held by the Nazis in concentration camps usually wore identifying marks on their left breast. Jews normally wore six pointed stars but different colored triangles and other symbols also indicated political prisoner status, sexual orientation and the other reasons why minorities were detained and often killed.
In all, roughly 6 million Jews were among nearly 11 million people believed to have perished in the Holocaust.
Just days ago Zara, which has over 2,000 stores in 88 countries worldwide, withdrew a t-shirt bearing the slogan "White is the new black."
In 2007, Zara faced criticism for carrying a bag embroidered with, among other designs, swastikas.