Urban Outfitters caused outrage in the US, UK and Ireland recently for releasing a range of ‘offensive’ products for St. Patricks Day.
The clothing brand brought out Irish themed t-shirts and caps for male and females with slogans like “I’m a f*cking leprechaun” and “Kiss me, I’m drunk, or Irish, or whatever…”
While I can ignore the slogan t-shirts, I can’t excuse the horrible hat. The cap features with an illustration of a man vomiting the words “Irish Yoga: Downward facing upchuck” accompanying it. Not clever and not funny.
While some people found the products as a joke or novelty in the run up to Paddy’s Day, others thought the range was designed in bad taste and were derogatory for labeling and stereotyping the Irish as drunks.
But this is not the first time this year that Urban Outfitters has hit the headlines for offending ethnicities. In February the Navajo Nation, a Native American tribe filed a lawsuit against the brand for the scandalous ‘misuse’ of its name.
The tribe believed that Urban Outfitters were falsely suggesting that the products had been made by American Indians when they had not and also violated trademarks of the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act which protects the tribe’s most valuable assets.
The company had been selling t-shirts, underwear and hip flasks under the name ‘Navajo’ but had to cease from using the name and instead re labeled the products ‘printed’.
Many people took to Twitter to express their outrage at Urban Outfitters treatment of the Navajos and the Irish.
But it is not only ethnic and racial groups that have been offended when it comes to the production of clothing; it’s women as well.
British clothing company Madhouse caused a stir online with a pair of chinos they created with ahem, ‘humorous’ labels on them. The label featured instructions on how to wash the trousers with the usual and general information provided, but in addition to this the words “Or GIVE IT TO YOUR WOMAN. It’s her job.” Thanks, for pointing that out lads.
While the majority of women may not be offended, many on Twitter called the label ‘outrageous’ and ‘shameful’ as the label larked back to the days when us lovely ladies should ‘stay in the kitchen’.
One woman, a publicity executive tweeted, “Lately I can’t tell which decade I’m living in. I can only assume that’s a joke.”
As offensive as a tongue-in cheek joke can be this is nothing compared to the uproar Topman caused with two slogan t-shirts they had on sale in their store.
One T-shirt had the lines: “Nice new girlfriend – what breed is she?” sprawled across the chest while the other says “I’m sorry but…and then has a checklist of the following excuses; you provoked me, I was drunk, I was having a bad day, I hate you, I didn’t mean to, I couldn’t help it.”
Again Twitter users where outraged and disgusted at the clothing that was deemed offensive and demeaning to women. The checklist t-shirt caused particular offense as it could be seen to make reference to domestic violence or rape.
The negative publicity surrounding the t-shirts forced Topman to remove the items from its shelves and marked as ‘out of stock’ on the website. The company also apologised to those who may have been offended by the designs.
Over the past 6 months the occurrences of cases like the above have become more regular. Is this a horrifying trend we are about to see emerging where we are offended as we shop? For the sake of consumers I hope not. All I have to say is Caveat Emptor – Let the Buyer Beware…as they may get insulted.
By Patricia Rice
Images: courtesy of timesunion.com, gothamist.com, businessinsider.com, inquistr.com, msn.com and guardian.com.