Urban Outfitters and the Ethics of Buying Clothes

. . 1 comment:
Today is a somewhat different kind of post. Usually Mondays are all about fashion and the next hot thing, but today there's been quite an upset with a company that we all know very well. This particular company, however, has had QUITE a bit of "upsets".

Today, Urban Outfitters apologized for this shirt they featured on their website as a one-of-a-kind vintage item for $129.

Now, a mini-history lesson for those of you who aren't aware:

In 1970 at Kent State University, students staged a massive protest of the Vietnam War. The war was drafting young men left and right, and protests were everywhere, especially on college campuses. 

This protest in particular was a peaceful one. No student was armed. The Ohio National Guard was called in and shot at the crowd of students, killing four and wounding nine. 

Apologizes for the graphic nature of this photo, but it is one of the most famous taken that day. John Filo won the Pulitzer for this one in particular. 

This incident is still relevant today for Kent State University, and this sweatshirt, while UO says was unintentional, has what appears to be a bloodstain on the fabric. 

Urban Outfitters is no stranger to controversy over their clothing. The Kent State sweatshirt is just the most recent in a line of what HAS to be deliberately offensive clothing. 

Because depression and anorexia are obviously t-shirt material.

And this t-shirt, which bears a more-than-slight resemblance to the Star of David, worn by Jewish people during the Holocaust. 

But here is the question I want to leave you with today. These are stunts, clear and simple. They get tons of attention for these ridiculously insensitive designs, whether offensive to Asian people, Native Americans, or people of various ethnicities and religions as well. Yet Urban Outfitters and other stores owned by Urban Outfitters, Inc. (Anthropologie, etc.) still get record profits every year. 

The question is this. While "all publicity is good publicity", as UO has demonstrated with their increasing success, is there a step they can take that will go too far? The Kent State massacre was 44 years ago. How long until we see 9/11 shirts? Or a stained Virginia Tech hoodie? How many more "newsworthy" items from this store will go viral in a deliberate publicity stunt before we stop giving them the attention they crave?

**Yes, I realize the irony of publishing a blog post about it as I call to give them less publicity...but let's consider this the last of it's kind. And lets hope that UO does the same.


1 comment:

  1. I agree, companies get away with criminal activity on the regular. Although, these are publicity stunts, I don't know that giving them less publicity is the solution. It ultimately brings light to issues the average consumer doesn't contemplate. The solution should be something like, educating the people that buy things. Who's spending so much money there and why?

    It seems there are little to no ethics in consumerism. There's a discussion to be had that we don't even know how to start. This comment itself doesn't even fully explain what I'm trying to touch.


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