In the 1970s, Ramiro Fita and his wife decided to capitalize on Argentine interest in U.S. culture by launching an Americana-themed clothing line called John L Cook. Over the years to come, the brand became like an Argentine version of Abercrombie & Fitch – popular with teens and modeled after a certain preppy “All American” look. But, as Al Jazeera America reports, there is one key difference that separates John L Cook from the pack: its logo is a Confederate flag. How did a line that ostensibly celebrates U.S. culture wind up with a logo that many in the U.S. would argue is Un-American?
It began pretty innocently, as it turns out. Fita first saw the rebel flag when he was stationed in Baltimore during a stint in the merchant navy, and brought it back with him to Argentina. As a foreigner, the flag had none of the racially-charged connotations for him– it was simply a piece of Americana. Their son and current brand president Emiliano, however, said that he knows what the flag means in the U.S., but that it doesn’t have any bearing on Cook’s decision to use it. “It’s just the brand’s logo,” he said to Al Jazeera America. “It symbolizes the history of self-improvement and love in the lives of my parents.” Surely, there are many who would disagree, like one Facebook commenter who went to Cook’s official page and denounced the brand for using the flag on a population who doesn’t know its true meaning.
Like the U.S., Argentina is a country that has a complicated racial history. Though Cook is popular, some have called out the brand for using the Confederate flag. It doesn’t seem they have any interest changing the logo, but they’ll probably continue to use quotes from people like Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., despite the obvious contradiction in these messages.
Read the entire Al Jazeera America article here.