Marketplace Bans Washington NFL Tees, Invites Etsy to Participate

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Defunkd, a vintage t-shirt marketplace has banned Washington's NFL tees to initiate a grassroots e-commerce protest that tackles branding offensive to American Indians. Etsy has been invited to join the initiative via an open letter.

When Washington does the right thing, other teams with offensive branding will stop hiding behind them.

Defunkd, an online boutique marketplace specializing in the sale of true vintage t-shirts, has banned the sale of Washington's NFL team tees. The move is inspired by the recent Oneida Indian Nation protest (#changethemascot) and online protests (#changethename) that target Washington's offensive branding. In the hope of creating momentum among other marketplaces, Defunkd has formally invited Etsy to follow suit.

Defunkd has a record of marrying vintage t-shirts with positive action. It began in 2007, when they auctioned a quantity of original Live Aid t-shirts discovered in a storage unit. All of the profits went to Africa Aid and funded school lunches in Ghana. In recent years they introduced the Tee-Planter Program, which guarantees a tree is planted by WeForest every time a t-shirt is sold via Defunkd. With the marketplace still undergoing beta testing, more than 1,200 trees have already been planted.

Ironically, this new initiative involves not selling t-shirts. is a popular destination for fans looking to pay homage to their team's glory days by collecting and sporting old tees. Washington, however, is one team they won't find anywhere on the site, including the vintage t-shirt archives.

"The offensive team name and branding issue was discussed in class at my high school in the late 1980s. And it wasn't new then. Though there have been some team name changes on a collegiate level, sadly, there hasn't been any real progress in the major leagues," said James Applegath, Defunkd's founder and previous eBay-awarded entrepreneur of the year.

Defunkd penned an open letter to Etsy inviting them to join this ban. Etsy's system boasts vintage and handcrafted items where many vendors re-purpose materials to make new products. As a result, everything from sexy lingerie to children's clothes, baby onesies and custom diapers for sale on the site bear Washington's mascot and offensive "R-word."

"As the Internet goes, we're just a Mom-and-Pop operation. But if Etsy were on board, people would really begin to take notice. It could be the start of a grassroots protest that gains traction with bigger retailers - which eventually impacts the team's merchandising. When Washington does the right thing, other teams with offensive branding will stop hiding behind them," Applegath said.

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James Applegath
since: 09/2008
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