Having hatched in 2008, Storch Heinar has set out to making the world a less fascistic place with his ironic take on right wingers.
Storch Heinar originated as a campaign by a group of young German social-democrats. The stork mascot was launched in 2008 in response to the increasing popularity of the right-wing fashion brand “Thor Steinar”. The project campaigns for more tolerance and picks up on everyday racism while balancing the tightrope of satirizing the right.
Mr. Heinar, do you feel more like a politician or beacon of fashion?
I’m a stork, and as such a satirical thorn in the flesh of the right-wing forces in this country. Like any stork who likes to parade his plumage, fashion leadership is my passion. But my political attitude is clear and refined.
Why is Storch Heinar into fashion?
You can’t venture outside butt naked. It’s easier when clad in a smart T-shirt or brave drawstring hoodie. When Storch Heinar hatched in 2008, Germany’s right-wing party NPD and the fashion brand “Thor Steinar” were very popular with Nazis. Satire and fashion offer a great way of sending a clear signal against right.
What made you go with Spreadshop?
As a pioneering bird of fashion, I can’t take care of production, warehousing, billing and shipping while still single-handedly running my gigantic fashion empire. So I needed a helping hand who could take over all these tasks for me and reliably distribute my merch to the people. I needed a functioning merchant shop with a global network that could be integrated into my website. Spreadshop appeared on my radar and I was quickly convinced.
What’s your Spreadshop like as a whole?
I am full of praise. Our antifascist fashion ammunition gets reliably delivered to our democratic allies in the field. What I would still like to see is limited editions. A design that you can e.g. order for only 20 days in a size of your choice and which then gets produced and shipped in one batch at the end of the campaign period.
A little tip to my fellow campaigners: you can do this yourself! All you have to do is leave your special-edition design online for 20 days before you take it off your virtual shop shelves. But let’s not forget what you set out to do. For us it’s all about giving nazis as little space as possible, whether it’s at demonstrations, on social media or lifestyle products.
Let me say this in straight prose: I find outright Nazis plain objectionable. What’s even more annoying are the light-brown people who use Nazi lingo and Nazi ideas under the guise of the “bourgeoise”. The unfortunate thing with it is that their philistine sh%t sticks with other people eventually. The result is a distressing degree of omnipresent racism and xenophobia. A person who disrespects other human beings with derogatory language should have no place in our society. So we’ve set out to oppose intolerance with satire.
Good to have you around, Storch Heinar! What do you do with the money you earn through your Spreadshop?
All proceeds support educational efforts against right-wing extremism. Even though most of the Storch Heinar project has been voluntary, there are costs that need to be covered. Printing e.g. postcards and mailbox stickers, going to a demonstration with my band Storchkraft and paying lawyers if the right wingers think they’ve been defamed by us.
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a captain of industry who just splashed out on the rights on Storch Heinar’s biography in order to commit to a clandestine donation. So I keep selling T-shirts.
Your target group can be clearly defined as people who don’t like Nazis. Who are the people interested in your shop?
Our followers mainly stem from the green and left field of the political spectrum. We are united in our anti-fascist mindset. We’re the good guys.
How do we have to envision the process of design creation? Do you also have a minister of propaganda?
Above all, I have a good shower every morning. You wouldn’t believe those ideas a good shower can produce. Then there’s a small editorial conference with my media tasters, in which we come to decisions together. Not every design is good at the beginning. Some are not good at the end. But we’re all about the message, so we’re making compromises. The implementation is then done with Inkscape, a fantastic piece of open source graphics software.
Wow, that’s super insightful – thank you! On a different note: if you could award somebody with a solidarity prize – like an egg of solidarity– who would it be?
An egg of solidarity? Manu Schwesig gets one. She shows a clear edge against the right in the north-east of Germany and encourages everyone to get involved. And if I have a big solidarity egg left, I’d give it to all the Young Socialists in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. They have peeled me out of the egg and lovingly raised me with an aquavit bottle.
And speaking of Storch Heinar as part of the young socialists: how do you manage to stay left? Is neutrality no policy of yours?
Neutrality? I must have misheard you! I’m not a Swiss bank stork. My natural predator is on the right. But if someone from the democratic camp dares to fish in murky, right-wing waters, then of course I’ll rap him over the knuckles. A Thuringian politician had to learn that recently when he joined forces with the right in a weak moment of mental derangement.
Oh yes, Thomas Kemmerich – well done! What was the greatest thing you ever achieved with one of your designs?
I may be the greatest stork to ever design fashion, but I don’t usually tend to indulge in superlatives. The greatest thing I have achieved is that posters of mine have been put up right under nationalist posters in recent election campaigns all over Germany. Without my help. And that people express anti-Nazi sentiments by wearing my fashion, putting up my posters or referencing me when standing up for a better world. I can’t think of anything that could top these hundreds of small efforts.
Have you ever had any encounters with conspiracy theorists?
On a regular basis. People always try to tell me that I don’t exist. I’m just a fictional character. Of course, that’s just an unfounded conspiracy theory in itself. I get a good laugh out of it in my secret lunar base somewhere on the dark side.
Which of your designs are particularly popular? And why?
The classic round logo. And I would like to see even more people wearing my current design Schnabel auf! (Speak up!) in public. Because it’s so important right now to stand up for a peace-loving and cosmopolitan society and to raise your voice when it matters.
#wearemore – so let the other side hear it too.
Final question! What is your advice to other political activists and initiatives who want to open a merch shop?
Sleep on your design for a night and always ask yourself if you would go to the movies wearing your T-shirt design. Or if you would wear it in the gym, at work on a casual Friday or in a pub. Political messages – and especially those on T-shirts – should also be sustainable and timeless. It’s better to see them in the streets than disappearing in the closet.
Thanks for the interview, Storch Heinar! We’d like to wish you all the best for your mission and your shop! May your followers continue to take off…