Along with khaki pants and plain button-down shirts, tote bags are generally among the most innocuous things a person can wear. Usually gifted as freebies for the sake of advertising a brand, it’s not often they make a major statement. (Your average pair of khaki pants, on the other hand, will undoubtedly announce exactly what kind of person you are, but that’s beside the point.) These tote bags from Rock Paper Scissors, a graphic design studio and printshop based in Israel, were created to stir up controversy and start a conversation—and that’s precisely what they’re doing.
The original incarnation of the much-talked about and otherwise perfunctory accessory comes in Arabic and translates to: “There is no purpose for this text other than spreading fear among those who are afraid of the Arabic language.” There’s now an Urdu version, too. The bags went viral last summer when someone snapped a photo of someone wearing one on the Berlin metro and it rapidly gained more than 15,000 Facebook shares.
As a wearer of the Urdu edition of the bag pointed out, “The text is in a language that is routinely mistaken for other equally ‘terrifying’ languages like Arabic or Farsi. Since these languages often share the same script, it only takes a single line to get people to gawk at my tote.” And gawk they apparently do. Eliciting disconcertion, even fear in ignorant people, Rock Paper Scissors’ mission is getting accomplished.
You can pick one up for $33 at Red Bubble. The totes, which start at $12, are currently sold out on Rock Paper Scissors’ website, due to a staggering demand (the company even said they’re “overwhelmed” with orders), but they should be restocking them soon.