Is “depression” a fashion statement? Urban Outfitters certainly seems to think so. Echoing an earlier gaffe, in which they produced a shirt with the phrase “eat less” on it, the company is under fire after releasing a tee with the word “depression” multiple times. The brand quickly caught flak for releasing a shirt that seemingly made light of mental illness by turning it into an aesthetic construct.
A Change.org petition was even created to challenge the company to get rid of the shirt. “Urban Outfitters are exploiting mental illnesses in order to make a profit and are completely disregarding the negative effects that this shameless promotion of mental illnesses can have on their target audience (primarily females in their teenage years),” it reads. “Mental illness is not something to be stigmatized or glamorized and therefore this petition is to urge them to ban all products glamorizing it. More than 5,000 people have signed it
In response, Urban has removed the shirt from its website, and says it will no longer offer it for sale. According to Laura Johnson, the executive director of women’s apparel over at Urban, it was all a big misunderstanding. The shirt was actually not an in-house design, but a shirt from the Japanese brand Depression, specially made for Urban.
“We did not create the Depression brand logo tee shirt and it most certainly was not a social statement of any kind,” Johnson told Fashionista. “It was brought to our attention that customers were offended by the product. Though is was not intended to exploit mental illness, we respectfully removed the product as to not further upset anyone. We’re sorry to those offended by the tee. We were trying to support a small brand, not glamorize mental illness in any way.”