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Free the Crass Symbol!
The symbol that Dave King created in 1977 made its first appearance in Penny Rimbaud's impassioned manifesto, "Christ's Reality Asylum." It then went on to become the logo for Crass, who defined anarcho punk for decades to follow.


In the intervening years, the symbol has been reproduced countless times, and become the basis for mashup, homage and reinterpretation.

Recently, a UK fashion house decided - like many others - to repurpose the logo for their clothing. They have reportedly claimed ownership of the symbol, despite 35 years of prior use. They also have a line of clothes called "Whore Wear" which, in their words, is "glam and chic yet bordering on trashy."


It is fitting that such an uninspired ripoff surrounds an anti-authoritarian symbol with a chain.

See the show "Symbol" and original unchained logo in person. It will remain on display at Goteblüd through March 4, 2012. Hours are Saturday/Sunday 12-5pm, located at 766 Valencia, San Francisco.

claimed ownership and used it for their whore wear line of clothing. jeeeeeeeeesus.


To be clear, their line of "Whore Wear" may or may not use the logo, but the logo is the centerpiece of much of their brand. I changed the piece above to be a little less specific about whether this symbol is on "Whore Wear" or not, although the main point is still the same.

Must put them in a bit of a bind. Pretty ironic really.
I assume copyrighting it would have been deemed too corporate at the time. So some chancers are trying it on. That 'Hardware' pretentiously call themselves a fashion house says much about their aspirations while their clothes say more about their talent. They'll be bust in a year.
But now piracy is endemic and, depending on context, outlaw and sexy or, the flipside, unimaginative theft - who gets to decide that context?
Crass or Coca-Cola? It is all fed into the machine now.
Witness Disney's new 'Unknown Pleasures' Mickey t-shirt.

I hope they make some cash out of it. But, if they do, I suppose it means they became, to a point, what they set out to destroy. They wouldn't be the first.

Whatever, Crass will be remembered. Hardware never will.

Indeed, homage/mashup/reinterpretation is inevitable, and there seems to be a flurry of this in recent times like the aforementioned Mickey/Joy Division rip.

I think the main concern for fans of the logo is if some non-related entity decides to assert ownership and were somehow able to prevent free use of the symbol. That would be the ultimate disservice to the logo, which has thrived due to that freedom.

Edited at 2012-01-30 04:21 pm (UTC)

That's why I actually think they should have copyrighted the logo themselves. Genesis P did that with thee Psychick Cross and, while some have taken umbrage at her objection to them using it in a manner she doesn't like, I think she is right. Appropriate someone elses' creativity, something they originated and nurtured through their actions, at your peril. They came up with it, they built the mythos around it, they took the risk and did the work.
They could still have allowed/ignored any usage they had no problem with.
But, as it is, free to all comers, idealogically or otherwise related or not.


We used that image in the zine/program for the show.

I've joked that she's probably wearing a pair of thousand-dollar Manolo Blahniks to boot.

Not to defend her but a friend of mine who is friends with her ex (Billy Bob) claims they both have a background in punk. Make of that what you will but it is possible that she does know who Crass is. Maybe.

I don't doubt she's probably a fan, as she reportedly has been collecting Crass art.

I just think she's likely integrated this shirt into a decidedly unpunk outfit. But maybe she's one step ahead of us all. ;)

Wow. That makes me very sad.

The part that makes me happy is to hear that the show will still be up when I am back in San Francisco the last weekend of Feb. Are you guys still allowing folks to bring items in t have spray painted?

Spray paint your stuff - this might be possible!

Thats incredibly good...

Thats stunning...

Its phenomenal :)

Thats exceptional...