Asian American community wants Tillys to apologize for this offensive shirt


FRESNO, California (KSEE) – A popular clothing store is being questioned about some of its merchandise.

An Asian American Studies lecturer at Fresno State says a T-shirt design, sold by Tillys stores, is offensive.

On Monday, we went to the Tillys location at Fresno’s Riverpark and they had two versions of the shirt in stock. Those we spoke with say they also saw it at a Tillys in Los Angeles. They tell us they want Tillys to stop selling the T-Shirt and apologize.

“My children are part Japanese, so I do find it offensive,” says Rebecca Gutknecht, a Valley resident.

This is not the first time a shirt from a major clothing store has been offensive to the Asian community. Gena Gong, an Asian American studies lecturer says nearly 20 years ago, Abercrombie & Fitch had something similar.

“They came out with a line with very similar looking T-shirts that had caricatures and stereotypes about Asian Americans on them,” says Gong.

At that time, Gong says a group of students protested the store and Abercrombie & Fitch eventually discontinued the shirt. She’s hoping Tillys, will do the same.

“The shirt is offensive. It’s not something that’s a joke that should be taken lightly.”

“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.”

Gong says fighting these stereotypes is a constant battle.

“Images like that just perpetuate stereotypes about Asian Americans that we’re all foreigners, that we don’t speak English,” Gong explained.

Those we spoke with say today’s world is about inclusiveness and Tillys missed the mark with this shirt.

“There is no reason for anything to be so offensive,” Gutknecht expressed.

We reached out to Tillys by phone and email. Over the phone, an employee told us they have no comment on the matter.

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