The owner of Virginia-based clothing company Verillas is speaking out against the Proud Boys after members of the alt-right group were seen wearing kilts made by the brand at a rally in Washington, D.C.
The Washington Post reports that nearly 700 supporters of President Donald Trump took to the streets of the nation’s capital on Saturday to protest Joe Biden’s November election victory on the basis of unfounded claims of voter fraud. Among them were dozens who call themselves as Proud Boys — a political organization known for touting white supremacy and labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. When observers of the rally posted videos of a group wearing matching black-and-yellow kilts to match their branded shirts and hats, the company that made the kilts immediately responded.
Disgusted to see members of "Proud Boys" a fascist terrorist org wearing our products. We're LGBTQIA+ owned, operated, designed and lived. We're against everything they stand for. I see $750 of our gear in the picture - I just gave $1000 to the NAACP to redirect hate to love. pic.twitter.com/eMdwW8Azrj
— Verillas (@Verillas) December 12, 2020
“Disgusted to see members of ‘Proud Boys’ a fascist terrorist org wearing our products,” a tweet from the brand Verillas read. “We're LGBTQIA+ owned, operated, designed and lived. We're against everything they stand for.”
Allister Greenbrier, the owner of Verillas, tells Yahoo Life that when the team saw a photo of the men wearing the kilts, “we thought we were doomed.”
Proud Boys in kilts. Dozens of them gathering downtown now for today’s March for Trump. pic.twitter.com/BTJWmGC6Yp
— Hannah Allam (@HannahAllam) December 12, 2020
“Our voice is small, and even a business as large as Fred Perry [a British clothing label whose polos were adopted by the Proud Boys earlier this year] has said little about this kind of thing,” Greenbrier says. “But when we donated the proceeds, and then some, from this unfortunate sale, the support pouring in behind our message has been tremendous.”
The brand’s tweet included a screenshot of a $1,000 donation to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in an effort to “redirect hate to love,” pointing out that there was $750 worth of Verillas clothing spotted in the photo. Taking action to take back the brand was imperative to Greenbrier, and to maintaining the core values of his company.
“It has been our mission since the founding of Verillas to provide a community in which our friends and customer base can express themselves through fashion safely,” Greenbrier continues. “Verillas has been about challenging gender roles in fashion, and about empowerment. We hope people feel stronger, more confident, and beautiful wearing what we make. Verillas is a longtime charity donor to such organizations as GLAD [a legal defense group], in hopes that discrimination of all kinds against the LGBTQIA+ community will end.”
But according to Greenbriar, the donation alone wasn’t enough.
“We’ve removed the yellow-black color scheme from our Warmetal Kilt line for now. We’ve got plans to modify them and reclaim them in a way that can enhance our defiance,” he explains. “It hurt to do, because we don’t like the idea of losing any ground to bigotry. The idea that they can just snatch up whatever they please and ruin it feels deeply wrong. But at the same time, I did not want to sell that product with current perception to folks who would unwittingly associate themselves with an awful movement.”
For those customers who already own this particular kilt model, Verillas is offering them the chance to trade out the kilt for another color.
“We have been working around the clock all weekend answering positive messages and taking orders for our brand from people who want to support our voice, our purpose and our message,” Greenbriar shares. “I personally am still blown away that such a frustrating and powerless situation turned into so much support.”
Read more from Yahoo Life:
Want lifestyle and wellness news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Life’s newsletter.