Well everybody, our favorite overpriced, indie-chic clothing store has done it again, and I’m not talking about you, American Apparel!
This past week, Urban Outfitters surprised no one by yet again making a stupidly offensive marketing decision when they decided to sell a tapestry that looks strangely familiar. The tapestry, with gray and white stripes and a small pink triangle, looks undoubtedly similar to the uniforms worn by homosexual prisoners in Nazi concentration camps in World War II-era Europe.
The tapestry came under fire by the Anti-Defamation League, who demanded that the store get rid of the tapestry. While it seems to have disappeared from the website, the tapestry was still apparently being sold in a New York store as recently as Feb. 10.
I have two questions for Urban Outfitters. Number one, who sells tapestries anymore? I didn’t know we were back in the dark ages and needed extra insulation (although with this winter, who knows). Number two, and more seriously, really? Did it occur to anyone approving this design that it may not be the best idea to market something reminiscent of Holocaust paraphernalia?
This isn’t the first time we’ve wondered about what goes through the minds of Urban Outfitters’ head honchos. While researching for this blog post, I came across an article titled, “14 Urban Outfitters Controversies.” Fourteen. Let that sink in.
Just a few months ago, the company made headlines after selling a “Kent State University” sweatshirt with … wait for it … red splatters that looked certainly like blood stains. For those of you who don’t know, Kent State University in Ohio was the scene of a violent encounter in which the state’s National Guard opened fire on a group of unarmed students in 1970. Four students were killed.
And, to top it off, this isn’t even Urban Outfitters’ first Holocaust-related controversy. Back in 2012, the company sold a yellow t-shirt for $100 with a Star of David over the left breast. Again, the Anti-Defamation League demanded the company get rid of the shirt for its resemblance to the stars Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany to identify them.
And yet, Urban Outfitters remains a staple in our malls and our closets, but why? Is it their boho style designs that make us look like an Olsen twin? Maybe it’s the funky music they play or the fact that you can buy both a $50 bra AND a book of horoscopes in one trip.
Personally, I made the choice to no longer shop at American Apparel, a close cousin to Urban Outfitters in style and controversy, a few months ago after studying their misogynistic advertising and learning about their AWFUL former CEO. Frankly, I can easily buy what American Apparel sells elsewhere, and probably for lower prices. Many have decided to do the same for Urban Outfitters and cast it out of their life.
I’m no Advertising major but Urban Outfitters — is it worth it? Sure, you generate some talk and controversy and maybe you trend on Twitter for a few hours, but not only are you losing potential and current consumers, but you’re also disrespecting people, in this case, the victims of what is quite possibly the darkest period and lowest low of European history.
I honestly hope that these repeat offenses were just stupid mistakes and not purposeful, but for now, I think I’m going to have to say goodbye to you, Urban Outfitters. The controversies may have been entertaining at one point, but now, they’re just shameful.