Taylor Swift fans are again proving themselves to be vigilant protectors of the pop star’s image. Less than a month after a torrent of angry messages from the groupies forced Abercrombie & Fitch to discontinue an offending t-shirt, Swifties have once again leveled their wrath against a shirt design poking fun at the icon’s romantic track record.
The owners of indie t-shirt company Bad Kids Clothing created a custom tank for a friend who was planning to attend a Taylor Swift concert. They posted the shirt, which listed the last names of ten ex-boyfriends or alleged flings, on the company’s Instagram page as a joke between friends, according to Fashionista.
The joke escalated quickly: a day after posting the shirt online, one owner, Andi Cross, reported she had already received 150 emails, 99 Twitter notifications, 30 Facebook messages or notifications, and scores of text messages regarding the shirt. Many of the messages from self-described “Swifties” accused the brand of targeting Swift and her fans. Messages included threats to burn down the store (which is entirely online), predictions of the company’s bankruptcy, and personal attacks at the owners. Bad Kids Clothing compiled them here.
The brand has refused to budge, instead defiantly placing the shirt in their online store for public distribution. In a minor concession, however, the owners removed Cory Monteith from the shirt upon his death on July 13 as a sign of respect for the Glee actor. In a post on the company’s blog, Cross said that Monteith’s death should inspire the angry Swifties to “go explore what the world has to offer” instead of spreading hate.
Swifties were not amused. Many of their threats included references to their Abercrombie & Fitch take-down in June, in which their outpouring of anger bullied the company — whose target demographic overlaps significantly with Taylor Swift’s — into damage control. “Have you not learned from the Abercrombie & Fitch incident, or is that incident that [sic] gave you this sickening, inhumane idea of a joke?” one Swift defender wrote to the company. But unlike Abercrombie & Fitch, Bad Kids Clothing isn’t too worried about what Taylor Swift fans think of their merchandise. The brand sells mainly neon clothes designed for electric dance music raves — a very separate musical universe from Taylor Swift’s mainstream hits.
Meanwhile, Bad Kids Clothing is ironically reaping the benefits of the vigilantes’ attention. In addition to the profit the company will reap from selling the shirts themselves, the brand has enjoyed a spike in attention. International shipping will even be available for the controversial shirt soon, according to the company Twitter account.