For such a successful company, you’d think Urban Outfitters would have better advisors. Up until this morning, the retailer was selling a vintage-style Kent State sweatshirt on its website that appeared to be splattered with red blood. And it completely sold out before it was pulled from the site.
In case you don’t see the big problem, four students were killed and nine other people wounded on the Ohio university campus in 1970, after an Army National Guard Unit fired on folks protesting the Vietnam War.
Granted, Urban’s core clientele is fairly young, and likely thought the $129 sweatshirt was simply a cool tie-dyed piece, but they shouldn’t have even been given the option to buy it.
Again, this begs the question of “who’s approving this stuff?” something we’ve asked a lot recently when it comes to questionable choices made by major retailers.
Last month, Zara released a kids’ T-shirt that looked similar to a concentration camp uniform, while Victoria’s Secret has offended cultural groups by sending a sexed-up Native American costume down the runway, and hawking a tasteless Orient-inspired collection called “Go East” that featured one particularly controversial piece called the “Sexy Little Geisha.
And this isn’t Urban Outfitters’ first time at the rodeo, either: They got flak for producing a shirt with the phrase “eat less” on it, and came under fire last year for releasing a tee with the word “depression” printed multiple times.
To be fair, the latter wasn’t an in-house design choice, but a shirt from the Japanese brand Depression, specially made for Urban. Still, the company was criticized for making light of mental illness by turning it into an aesthetic construct.
We understand that, in the case of fast fashion, things get churned out at a break-neck pace, but clearly, there needs to be a better vetting system in place.
What do you think about Urban Outfitter’s latest gaffe? Sound off below!