Originally published on Advocate.com September 19 2003 12:00 AM ET
The makers of the outdoor clothing worn by Sir Edmund Hillary as he climbed to the top of Mount Everest 50 years ago have decided to change the company name in order to appeal to Australian and British men who feel the moniker is a little too gay. Market research revealed that male customers in the two countries were leery of Fairydown's gay-sounding name. Hillary, who took Fairydown clothing and sleeping bags to Everest and the South Pole, said on Wednesday that he is furious over the name change. "Reading that connotation into the name is absolutely stupid--it's a good brand," the legendary mountaineer told The Dominion Post of Wellington, New Zealand. "I have a Fairydown jacket, and I am very proud to wear it."
Made by the New Zealand firm Arthur Ellis, Fairydown gear will now be known as "Zone." Managing director Hugo Venter said research found that in Australia the original name was holding down sales. "[Australian men] don't want to have FAIRYDOWN on their shirts," Venter said. "It's something they don't feel happy with." He told Radio New Zealand he was surprised to see the results of the market survey in Australia and the United Kingdom. "I was quite taken aback.... To me, it's just never been an issue, but clearly there are a large number of people outside New Zealand that have a different point of view."