Urban Outfitters, poor taste once again

Posted by Molly Lamoureux


After the outrageously offensive Kent State sweatshirt fiasco in the summer of 2014, Urban Outfitters seemed to evade ridicule after a public apology. Little did we know, that would be the first of the store’s many public offenses.

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Racism appears to be Urban Outfitters’ offending topic of choice. When it seemed that selling clothing items under the category “OBAMA/BLACK” was as racist is the store could get, Urban Outfitters’ released the gray/white-striped tapestry reminiscent of Nazi-holocaust clothing.

Not only is the product alluding to a piece of clothing worn by concentration camp prisoners, but the tapestry also includes a sprinkling of pink triangles. The pink triangle during Nazi Germany symbolized a prisoner who was allegedly homosexual.

Mass media isn’t the only outlet that’s throwing a fit. The controversy is hitting home for many individuals, as well. Abraham H. Foxman, holocaust survivor and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a recent press release that the product is “deeply offensive and should not be mainstreamed into popular culture.” Within hours of the ADL press release, the product on the website had no available image and was “sold out,” proving that even small voices can influence big decisions.

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The “Triangle-Stripe Curtain” is just one of Urban Outfitters’ many offenses. What was originally believed to be an honest mistake, now appears to be intentions of deliberate controversy and commotion. The dorm decor and fashion supplier’s motto might as well be “No press is bad press.”

But, especially in this case, is there such a thing as bad press? Is this something that the media is covering responsibly? Is this sort of press detrimental to Urban Outfitters as a brand? Does the way in which the media covers the issue affect our buying habits as a society? As individuals?


3 responses to “Urban Outfitters, poor taste once again

  1. While normally I believe that all press is beneficial to companies, these continuing offenses have actually changed my mind about shopping at Urban Outfitters. The media also has a big role in this because many articles have created a negative stance against Urban Outfitters, affirming my opinion on the company. Because of these acts, I have stopped shopping there, and I assume other target consumers have as well.

  2. In some cases, yes, even bad press can pique customers’ interests in a company. But the way the media is responding to Urban Outfitters, I would say that this press is extremely harmful to the company. Who wants to buy clothing from a store that would do something like that? And with it being so talked about in the media, everyone knows about it, and more and more customers are getting turned off by the brand. I know I am.

  3. I completely agree, Lauren and Beth. I definitely think bad press is actually bad, in this case. I thought Molly’s question of the media’s responsibility was especially interesting — typically, the media reports news and facts, not opinions. Every post I’ve seen about this situation has been extremely negative, bringing in a not-so-great opinion of Urban Outfitters. Normally I would say opinion has no place in news stories, but in this case I actually thought it was good. Young people who may be reading an article about their favorite clothing store need to be able to realize the severity of UO’s actions, and to me, this falls under media responsibility.

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