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Entries in Urban Outfitters (6)

Wednesday
May082013

Urban Outfitters Under Fire for 'Prescription Shot Glasses'

ABC News / Urban Outfitters

(NEW YORK) -- Urban Outfitters, known for its quirky clothing and "out of the box" merchandise, is no stranger to the controversy that surrounds their often tongue-in-cheek products. The company's latest commodities to come under fire are its series of medical-themed drinking products such as "prescription shot glasses," "syringe shot shooters" and "Rx pint glasses."

Although intended to be funny, The Partnership at Drugfree.org is not laughing.

"These products make light of prescription drug misuse and abuse, a dangerous behavior that is responsible for more deaths in the United States each year than heroin and cocaine combined," The Partnership at Drugfree.org wrote on their website, urging readers to sign a petition to have the products removed from Urban's stores and website.

Since being posted on May 1, more than 2,960 people have signed the petition, and the number continues to grow.

The plea continues, "Medicine abuse has increased 33 percent over the past five years with one in four teens having misused or abused a prescription drug in their lifetime. Combined with alcohol, the misuse and abuse of prescription medications can be especially dangerous, making the Urban Outfitter Rx pint and shot glasses and flasks even more disturbing."

Urban Outfitters has not yet responded to ABC News' request for comment.

The company's 'Navajo' collection also came under fire after Sasha Houston Brown, a Native American woman from Minnesota, deemed it offensive.

In 2011, Brown sent a complaint to the company's CEO saying she was offended by "plastic dreamcatchers wrapped in pleather hung next to an indistinguishable mass of artificial feather jewelry and hyper sexualized clothing featuring an abundance of suede, fringe and inauthentic tribal patterns," after visiting a store in Minneapolis.

"It was the experience of being there and immersed in that setting, surrounded by all of these items, that took this cultural offense and cultural appropriation to another level," Brown told ABCNews.com at the time. "It was just beyond demeaning and inappropriate on a personal and collective level."

A spokesman for the clothing company said, "The Native American-inspired trend and specifically the term 'Navajo' have been cycling thru fashion, fine art and design for the last few years. We currently have no plans to modify or discontinue any of these products."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Apr222012

Urban Outfitters Condemned for Jewish Star Tee

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Anti-Defamation League condemned Urban Outfitters for selling a t-shirt with a symbol that looks like the yellow Star of David Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Europe.

“We find this use of symbolism to be extremely distasteful and offensive, and we are outraged that your company would make this product available to your customers,” Barry Morrison, regional director of the ADL, wrote in a letter e-mailed to Richard A. Hayne, President and CEO of Urban Outfitters.

Morrison said this “…represents a new low.”

The t-shirt, called the Kellog Tee, was designed by the Danish label Wood Wood and costs $100.

Urban Outfitters did not immediately respond to requests from ABCNews.com for comment.

The clothing company is no stranger to controversy.

In March, the company sold a line of Irish-themed clothing and accessories that U.S. Congress said portrayed “severe and negative stereotypes.”

One of the women’s tank-tops says, “Irish I Were Drunk” with a shamrock and another t-shirt says, “Kiss Me I’m Drunk, Or Irish, Or Whatever.” A hat that shows a stick figure on all fours vomiting says, “Irish Yoga.”

In Oct. 2011, Sasha Houston Brown, a 24-year-old Native American woman from Minnesota, wrote a letter to the company about a line of “Navajo” items she claimed were “cheap, vulgar and culturally offensive.”

Brown said she was offended by “plastic dreamcatchers wrapped in pleather hung next to an indistinguishable mass of artificial feather jewelry and hyper sexualized clothing featuring an abundance of suede, fringe and inauthentic tribal patterns.”

A “Navajo Print Fabric Wrapped Flask” and “Navajo Hipster Panty” drew criticism for the company, which later removed the word “Navajo” from the product titles.

On Feb. 28, the Navajo Nation sued Urban Outfitters for violating its trademark by selling the clothing and accessories.

The Navajo Nation said in its lawsuit that even after Urban Outfitters removed the word “Navajo” from its products on its website, it “continued to sell its products in its retail stores under the ‘Navajo’ and ‘Navaho’ names and marks. Moreover, defendant also continued to use the word ‘Navajo’ on its sales receipts.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr172012

Urban Outifitters Targeted for Suggestive Ad

Urban Outfitters(NEW YORK) -- After unsuccessfully campaigning to get Ellen DeGeneres fired from her gig as a JC Penney spokesperson, the conservative group One Million Moms is now railing against the retail chain Urban Outfitters for its catalog photo of two women kissing.

In a web posting, the group advised parents to call or email Urban Outfitters with complaints about the photo.

“Tell them you will also no longer shop at their stores if you hear this type of advertising continues,” states the post. “The content is offensive and inappropriate for a teen who is the company’s target customer.”

One Million Moms is also demanding that Urban Outfitters apologize. The company did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

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Earlier this year, the group attempted a boycott of JC Penney after Ellen DeGeneres was announced as the store’s spokesperson. JC Penney, however, stood behind the openly gay DeGeneres, who received support from her broad base of fans and even an endorsement from conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly.

One Million Moms is a division of the media watchdog Christian group, the American Family Association. The One Million Moms’ website describes their goal as stopping “the exploitation of our children, especially by the entertainment media (TV, music, movies, etc.)”

This is not the first time Urban Outfitters has courted controversy. Last month, it was criticized by 10 members of congress for selling t-shirts that read “Kiss Me I’m Drunk or Irish or Whatever.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar022012

Urban Outfitters Under Fire from Congressional Group

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Urban Outfitters is the object of congressional scorn for a line of Irish-themed clothing and accessories with "severe and negative stereotypes," according to a letter sent to the company from 10 members of Congress.

The legislators are part of the Congressional Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs and the letter is directed at Urban Outfitters CEO Tedford Marlow.

"We recently learned of images used by Urban Outfitters in its St. Patrick's Day clothing line that depict severe and negative stereotypes of Irish and Irish-American people as well as may promote binge drinking," the letter read. "We strongly urge you to end the sale of these items."

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A search of the word "Irish" on the clothing brand's website turns up 13 products—shirts, beer glasses, shot glasses, a flask and sunglasses shaped as shamrocks and beer glasses. One of the women's tank-tops says, "Irish I Were Drunk" with a shamrock and another t-shirt says, "Kiss Me I'm Drunk, Or Irish, Or Whatever." A hat that shows a stick figure on all fours vomiting says, "Irish Yoga."

"By selling and promoting these items, Urban Outfitters is only fueling stereotypes that many Irish-Americans, as well as the people in Ireland, work so hard to dispel," said Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., in a statement.

Crowley spearheaded the letter and got his colleagues on board after hearing that many Irish-Americans were upset by the merchandise. The letter expresses concerns about the items potentially encouraging binge drinking, which they call a "very serious problem affecting many of our nation's young people."

"We strongly urge you to review your St. Patrick's Day clothing line and consider its effects on the 35 million-strong Irish-American community, as well as its implications for binge drinking," the letter said. "We also hope your review results in the withdrawal from distribution and sale of the items in question."

The letter was sent on Feb. 27 and Urban Outfitters has not yet responded to the Congress members.

Urban Outfitters did not respond to requests for comment from ABC News.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct202011

Urban Outfitters Removes ‘Navajo’ from Product Names

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Urban Outfitters has removed the word “Navajo” from the names of more than 20 products following a critical firestorm that began with a letter from a Native American woman who found the products offensive.

Sasha Houston Brown, 24, took action after going into an Urban Outfitters store in Minneapolis and seeing “Navajo”-labeled products that she claimed were culturally offensive, including a “Navajo Print Fabric Wrapped Flask,” “Navajo Hipster Panty” and “Staring at Stars Strapless Navajo Dress.”

After her letter was posted on the Racialicious blog, a website dedicated to issues at “the intersection of race and pop culture,” the Navajo Nation government got involved and the general public began to heavily criticize the company.

Though the products are still available for purchase, the word “Navajo” has been removed from all the names and replaced with words like “printed.”

Brown is “glad” to see that the product names have changed.

“It does make a huge difference and it’s something so simple that probably should have been done in the first place,” Brown said. “While they are still carrying all of these products that are kind of offensive, it is a step in the right direction by removing the words ‘Navajo’ and ‘tribe’ and other nuances.”

What she is really happy about is the fact that her letter ignited a national conversation.

“It recognizes the Navajo Nation as a sovereign entity that is protected by federal legislation and law,” she said. “And, I think by them removing it, it does show also that it’s a serious issue that is much more than offensive.”

Brown never received a response from Urban Outfitters, but said the change is “still a victory.”

Urban Outfitters originally said they had “no plans to modify or discontinue any of these products ”-- that is, until the company received an official order to cease and desist from the Navajo tribe.

“We received a cease and desist about a week ago,” wrote Ed Looram, director of content and public relations for Urban Outfitters, in an email to ABC News. “As the matter is now in the hands of our legal department, I’m no longer at liberty to comment on this topic.”

A statement from the Navajo Nation’s Department of Justice called Urban Outfitters’ change “positive actions that are more consistent with the corporation’s responsibilities than previously demonstrated.”

“The Navajo Nation appreciates actions such as those recently taken by Urban Outfitters, and encourages other companies to take similarly responsible measures in the future,” the statement said.

Brown claimed the company’s items were illegal, in addition to offensive.

They violated the Federal Trade Commission Act and Federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, which “prohibits misrepresentation in marketing of Indian arts and crafts produced within the United States” and states the following:

“It is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian Tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization, resident within the United States.”

The Navajo Nation holds at least 10 trademarks that include the use of the tribe’s name for clothing, household products and footwear.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Wednesday
Oct122011

Urban Outfitters Under Fire for 'Navajo' Collection

Sasha Houston Brown sent an open letter to Urban Outfitters CEO Glen T. Senk regarding clothing and accessories she found offensive to Native American culture. Courtesy Sasha Houston Brown(MINNEAPOLIS) -- An open letter by a Native American woman from Minnesota has turned up the heat on the retail chain Urban Outfitters because of a line of "Navajo" items she claims are culturally offensive.

Sasha Houston Brown, 24, decided to take action after walking into an Urban Outfitters store in Minneapolis and seeing Navajo-labeled products that disturbed her.

She sent her complaint to the company's CEO by email and conventional mail, saying she was offended by "plastic dreamcatchers wrapped in pleather hung next to an indistinguishable mass of artificial feather jewelry and hyper sexualized clothing featuring an abundance of suede, fringe and inauthentic tribal patterns."

Brown told Urban Outfitters CEO Glen T. Senk that the collection was "cheap, vulgar and culturally offensive."

The letter also was posted on the Racialicious blog, a website dedicated to issues at "the intersection of race and pop culture."

"It was the experience of being there and immersed in that setting, surrounded by all of these items, that took this cultural offense and cultural appropriation to another level," Brown told ABC News. "It was just beyond demeaning and inappropriate on a personal and collective level."

A recent search with the term "Navajo" on the Urban Outfitters website brought up 23 items, including the Navajo Print Fabric Wrapped Flask, Navajo Hipster Panty and Staring at Stars Strapless Navajo Dress.

"These and the dozens of other tacky products you are currently selling referencing Native America make a mockery of our identity and unique cultures," Brown wrote to the company.

She claimed that none of the products were made by indigenous nations and that that no native peoples were involved in the design process.

No one from Urban Outfitters has responded to Brown or reached out to her, she said.

In a statement to ABC News, Urban Outfitters public relations director Ed Looram wrote: "The Native American-inspired trend and specifically the term 'Navajo' have been cycling thru fashion, fine art and design for the last few years. We currently have no plans to modify or discontinue any of these products."

Looram added that the company is dedicated to inspiring customers and interpreting trends.

Brown said that not only were the company's items offensive, but they may also be illegal.

She claimed they violated the Federal Trade Commission Act and Federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, which "prohibits misrepresentation in marketing of Indian arts and crafts produced within the United States" and states the following:

"It is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian Tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization, resident within the United States."

She is an academic advisor at Minneapolis Community and Technical College where she works with the American Indian Success Program. Her father is of the Dakota people and Brown also identifies herself as part of the Santee Sioux Nation. Her mother is Russian and Jewish.

She is happy that her letter has initiated a national conversation and emphasized that there are larger issues to be discussed, in addition to the problem with Urban Outfitters.

In the letter, she called for Urban Outfitters to pull the clothing line from stores and apologize to indigenous peoples of North America.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio