A Virginia-based kilt retailer has expressed anger and disgust after members of a white supremacist, extremist street gang wore one of the company’s designs at the rally that backers of President Donald Trump held last weekend in Washington ― a gathering that at times turned violent.
Photos showing self-proclaimed Proud Boys in the yellow-and-black kilts appeared in national and international news outlets and on social media. Members of the gang, designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, were among those at the Saturday rally that supported Trump’s false claims that November’s election was “rigged” and that he actually won it.
At various points during the rally, several of the Proud Boys lifted up their kilts to moon the crowd, which revealed that they’d written “Fuck Antifa” on their butts in black marker.
It didn’t take long for Verillas, a Fredericksburg, Virginia-based retailer focused on “embracing the kilt as a primary force in menswear,” spotted the images. By Saturday afternoon, company officials said they were “disgusted” to see the Proud Boys wearing their designs.
To offset the purchases the Proud Boys had made, Verillas announced it was making a $1,000 donation to the NAACP.
“We’re LGBTQIA+ owned, operated, designed and lived,” the company wrote on Twitter. “We’re against everything they stand for,” referring to the Proud Boys.
In an interview with the BBC, Verillas owner Allister Greenbrier said he was “appalled, angry and frustrated” after seeing the company’s products embraced by the Proud Boys, who are prone to violence. The men had identified themselves to Verillas staffers as a metal band when they came in to purchase the kilts, which were part of the brand’s Warmetal line, he said.
“I can’t control who buys my product,” Greenbrier, who is of Scottish descent, said. “But if they’re buying our product, they’re putting their money towards a good cause and I think they won’t be too happy when they find out they accidentally bought from a company that’s really fighting for the opposite of what they believe in.”
The yellow-and-black option of the Warmetal line has since been removed from sale, Greenbrier said. Customers who previously purchased the pattern and don’t want to be associated with the Proud Boys are entitled to a free exchange.
“We want to turn hate into love,” he added.
Founded in 2014, Verillas has been unveiling special LGBTQ Pride-themed designs annually since 2018. The company has vowed to reintroduce the yellow-and-black Warmetal pattern with a slightly refreshed look “in a way that can enhance our defiance.”