15 Apr 2014

Inside Thor Steinar: London outfitter to the extreme right

A controversial clothing brand strongly associated with the extreme right in Europe has opened a high street store in London, Channel 4 News can reveal.

Thor Steinar, the favoured brand of hardline right wingers in Germany, has opened a shop in north London called the Viking Thor Shop – but locals may be unaware of its right-wing roots.

The shop has been operating from Ballards Lane in North Finchley since late last month, bringing clothing heavily associated with European far-right street movements to the UK.

The owner told Channel 4 News that he is not linked to the far right in any way, and promised to have posts on the white power website Stormfront promoting his new shop removed.

When contacted Thor Steinar head office said it had “no interest” in commenting on the new shop in the heart of a multicultural London community with a sizeable Jewish population.

Banned brand

The Thor Steinar brand has faced bans in the German Bundestag, in several football stadium and members of the far-right German National Democratic Party have been expelled from parliament for wearing the brand.

Its clothes were banned outright in Germany in 2004 because of the logo’s similarity to symbols worn by the Nazi SS – but the company has rebranded since then.

In March 2012 the label drew global controversy when the company opened a shop called Brevik in Saxony. It was accused of naming the store after far-right mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik.

The brand claimed it was named in honour of the Norwegian town of Brevik in Oslo but later changed the name and removed the sign.

Above the door at the north London Viking store, an ambiguous Wolfsangel-style Nordic rune is proudly displayed.

At present the shop may be unwelcome, but doesn’t yet appear to have acted illegally
Mike Freer MP

The company was launched in October 2002 and was initially based in Königs Wusterhausen, German. In 2009 it moved to Dubai – provoking outrage from some of its extreme right customers who threatened a boycott.

The arrival of the shop was welcomed by the white power website Stormfront, where users posted boasting that “London gets its first white nationalist clothing shop”. A number of users pledged to visit the store.

One poster responded: “I hate north London. It’s full of Jews”, while a number of users made comments about shooting Jewish people.

Local Conservative MP Mike Freer told Channel 4 News; “I am in contact with the Community Security Trust and local groups to ascertain what can be done.

“However, at present the shop may be unwelcome, but doesn’t yet appear to have acted illegally.”

Links to the right

While the company claims it is not owned by the far right, reports in the German press have repeatedly indicated the clothing was created from the far-right scene in east Germany.

The shop sells goods from jackets to t-shirts emblazoned with the brand’s name and logo. One t-shirt reads “White shark”, another shows a man holding an automatic weapon and reads “last man standing”.

The clothes regularly feature Vikings and Nordic themes – mythology which plays a central role in the extreme right’s racial purist views.

The Norwegian government filed a complaint against the use of the national flag in February 2008.

Thor Steinar shops in Germany have been repeatedly targeted by anti-fascist protests and repeatedly vandalised.

Earlier this month in Hanover 350 protesters gathered outside a Thor Steinar store to protest against what they see as a “right wing lifestyle store”.