O.C. Skate Firm's 'Destroy All Girls' Tags Won't Wash

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

An in-line skating equipment company said it was just having fun when it printed "Destroy All Girls" on its clothing line. But at least one retailer is not amused.

Senate, a 3-year-old Huntington Beach company, put the message on laundering instruction tags on the fall line of its T-shirts, sweatshirts, pants and boxer shorts. A company spokesman said it fit with the sport's irreverent image, and was not meant to be taken literally.

But Galyan's Trading Co., which has has nine sporting goods stores in Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota and Kansas, on Monday announced it has taken the company's merchandise off its shelves. The chain said it was sending back not only the offending clothing, but also the Senate brand of wheels, bearings and other gear.

A Galyan's customer in Minnesota was preparing to wash a T-shirt when she spotted the slogan and called to complain, said Joan Hurley, director of marketing for the Plainfield, Ind.-based chain, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Limited.

"We will not have that in our stores. It's counter to the culture we have at Galyan's," Hurley said. "We simply pulled everything that said Senate and had it boxed up and sent back."

Galyan's had no idea the tags had the slogans until the customer brought it to their attention, Hurley said.

Arlo Eisenberg, one of the five partners who founded Senate, said he designs most of its apparel and didn't hesitate to claim responsibility for "Destroy All Girls."

"The tag was supposed to say, 'Kill your parents,' but some people thought that was too extreme. Go figure," Eisenberg said.

Senate also has heard complaints from other markets, including Florida, and will not include the tags on any newly manufactured items. But the company has no plans to pull the offending items from stores, Eisenberg said. The items have been on shelves only a few weeks, he said.

"The stuff isn't literal. I don't expect anyone to go out and destroy all girls," Eisenberg said. "It's a niche market, so there's a lot of people that aren't going to get it."

Senate, a private company, sold about $10 million in goods last year, primarily to teen-age boys who skate "aggressively" with ramps and techniques one might find on ESPN's X-Games, he said.

Eisenberg, 23, an aggressive skater himself, said he adopted the "destroy all girls" line from an alternative rock group called Scraping Fetus Off the Wheel.

He doesn't expect Senate's sales to be hurt as a result of the controversy. New shops catering just to roller-blading are popping up all over to take advantage of the sport's growing popularity, he said. "For every store that's dropping our product, the store across the street is doubling our products," he said.

Senate also has put out shirts that say "Kill" in bold letters and another that said "Sinner" and showed a youth on roller skates with a shaved head and a bloody baseball bat in his hands.

Senate has about 25 employees and about half of them are women, Eisenberg said. He said they haven't complained, nor does he expect the slogan to motivate violence against girls.

"I don't really worry about that. It's a bit too ridiculous," Eisenberg said.

Not to Kurt Barnard, president of Barnard's Retail Marketing Report, an industry newsletter.

"You tell a 14-year-old boy that this is a joke. There are enough sick minds around that take this sufficiently seriously," said the New Jersey-based analyst.

"I think that it's just about the worst, God-awful idea I have ever heard. That company deserves to be put out of business," Barnard said.

It's to be expected from Senate, though, said Chris Wiggins, a salesman for Sitzmark, a sporting goods store in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel that stocks a large line of Senate merchandise.

"They basically market themselves toward young kids who are for the most part wise guys; they're belligerent," Wiggins said. "They want to align themselves with them, and it's worked very well."

A spokeswomen for the National Organization for Women in Washington said the group would have no comment on the matter until it saw the tag and talked to the company.

Times staff writer Patrice Apodaca contributed to this report.

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