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Urban Outfitters item sparks controversy again

February 19th, 2015

Urban Outfitters has done it again. The company has managed to create and sell another controversial item.

 

The company is selling a gray and white striped tapestry containing several pink triangles. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a press release on Feb. 9, 2015, stating the tapestry is “eerily reminiscent” of the clothing homosexual male prisoners were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps.

 

In its press release, the ADL urged Urban Outfitters to stop selling and discontinue the tapestry. In a letter to Urban Outfitters’ CEO, Richard A. Hayne, the ADL expressed its concern of the “insensitive design.”

 

This is not the first time Urban Outfitters sold a product that has caused heated debates.

 

“Ghettopoly,” resembling the board game Monopoly, came out in 2003. The Urban Outfitters’ version of the popular game featured landmarks including Harlem and the Bronx, railroads that were liquor stores and hotels and houses that were crack houses and projects. This item raised criticism by the NAACP among others for what was called a racist and offensive game.

 

L&E Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters released a graphic T-shirt with the phrase “Eat Less,” circa 2010. This prompted an uproar in the U.S. where, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, “up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder.”

 

The ADL released statements in 2012 regarding a yellow shirt called ‘Kellog Tee,’ which depicted a six-pointed star on the breast pocket.  The ADL found similarities between the shirt design and the Star of David symbol Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany.

 

Outcries came in early 2014 when a crop T-shirt with the word ‘depression’ repeatedly printed on it was put on shelves.

 

Most recently, in September 2014, the company released a red Kent State University sweatshirt with a fake blood spattered appearance. This brought even more attention to the brand, questioning its ethical guidelines when selling products.

 

This is just an abbreviated list of items placed on Urban Outfitters’ shelves and website that have caused uproars. Many of these products were immediately pulled from stores.

 

Many have asked why a company continue to sell products with seemingly obvious offensive products and apparel?

 

“As a history major and someone who has researched a lot about the Holocaust I really hope this isn’t something a company like Urban Outfitters prides themselves on,” senior Moira Kelley commented, calling the tapestry “disgraceful” and “inappropriate.”

 

“These controversial pieces drive website traffic,” senior Ellen Dietrick explained. “Ultimately, it is about publicity. Urban Outfitters operates under the stigma that all publicity is good publicity.”

 

Senior Becca Gerken believes the company’s motives are for the shock values. “They [Urban Outfitters] think that maybe if they push the boundaries just enough people will think it’s ‘edgy.’ They don’t quite understand where that line is.”

 

Editor’s Note: Information from ADL.org, ANAD.org, Fashionista.com, NPR.org, Styleit.com, Time and The Week was used in this article.