People Urban Outfitters have offended: Recent UO controversies explained
Who's saying what
The African American community
In 2003, Urban Outfitters thought they’d transform Monopoly’s classic board of city scapes into Ghettopoly – a fresh game about the ‘hood. Designed by David Chang, the appropriated board game replaced Boardwalk with Trick Avenue, and Reading Railroad with Hernando’s Chip Shop. “Playas” became pimps and choice game cards read “You got yo whole neighbourhood addicted to crack. Collect $50” were dispersed between the Westside Liquor, Harlem, The Bronx and Long Beach City properties, as well as Smitty’s XXX Peep Show, Weinstein’s Gold and Platinum, and Tyron’s Gun Shop squares.
Jews and Asians
After releasing a line of tees that read “Everyone loves a (race/religion) girl”, Urban Outfitters came under fire by anti-defamation groups as the Jewish girl t-shirt was surrounded by dollar signs and shopping bags. The uncomfortable stereotype of Jewish misers came to mind, and the t-shirt was taken off the market. In that same series, the store made no attempt for the Asian girl’s t-shirt to be photographed on an Asian model. Instead, the campaign image featured the same girl who modelled the Catholic/ Jewish tees. Political correctness aside, the whole line is just ridiculous. Who would honestly wear that?!
Last week, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) were again up in arms over the $100 “Wood Wood Kellog Tee”. The shirt is designed with the star of David placed right above the yellow shirt's left breast and has been slammed by critics who say it mimics some of the horrors of the Holocaust.
Anyone who believes children shouldn’t carry weapons
Urban Outfitters found themselves in hot water after releasing a t-shirt that depicted a young Palestinian boy wearing a kaffiyeh and clutching an AK-47, emblazoned with the word “Victimized” decorated with a red blood design threading through the word. The t-shirt touched on the situation in the Middle East, pissing off people on both sides of the argument. Both sides actually agreed that the shirt blatantly glorified child abuse, terrorism and exploitation though. Woah, did UO just create peaceful dialogue?
The transgendered community
Just last month, the fashion retailer was in trouble for selling a transphobic card. According to the site, the card, which played on popular children’s rhyme, Jack and Jill, was sold out. But you can check it (and be insulted) here:
The gay community
A shirt of artist and gay icon, Robert Mapplethorpe was yanked from stores, but still available online. In 2008, urban Outfitters also pulled the plug on a tee that read, “I support same-sex marriage”, that was said to be linked to the conservative belief’s of the company’s CEO, Richard Hayne.
The Navajo Nation
The Navajo Nation has filed a lawsuit against UO just months after the tribe demanded that the retailer pull the “Navajo” name from “culturally offensive” items, such as plastic dream catchers, flasks, artificial feather jewellery, and clothing with faux tribal patterns. According to MSNBC, a lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court, “alleging trademark violations and violations of the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which makes it illegal to sell arts or crafts in a way to falsely suggest they're made by American Indians when they're not.” The items also totally play on cultural stereotypes, Navajo is condensed to a singular pattern and aesthetic.
During the lead up to St Patrick’s Day last year, Urban Outfitters managed to insult the global Irish community by playing on negative stereotypes (we see a pattern here!), relating to Irish alcohol abuse. Green shirts with text printed “Irish I were drunk”, “I’m a drinker, not a fighter”, “Kiss Me. I’m drunk, or Irish, whatever” as well as a hat that said “Irish Yoga”, which depicted a man on his knees vomiting, were a few on the range’s most distasteful picks.
The population of Mexico
A shirt that read “New Mexico, Cleaner than Regular Mexico”, was slammed for suggesting that Mexico is a dirty place, placing it in a rude comparison to the South Western American state. Let’s not dignify it with any more attention.
Join the conversation below