In the case of Urban Outfitters and American Apparel, it appears that evil comes in the form of international corporations, as another year means another controversy and jump in sales.
Both Urban Outfitters and American Apparel use controversy as a marketing strategy. However, they have crossed the line this past year. With the recent exposure of American Apparel’s offensive CEO, Dov Charney, and Urban Outfitters’ creation of a fake blood-stained Kent State sweatshirt, we shoppers are reminded why we need to stop shoveling money into these two stores.
According to USA Today, Urban Outfitters was under fire in 2003 for selling a Monopoly parody game called Ghettopoly. The racist game portrayed “life in the ghetto” with a black man holding a gun and a “40 bottle.” The cover included such placement pieces: a crack pipe, a marijuana leaf, a pimp, a hoe, a basketball, and other questionable items. Later in 2012, the store again got in trouble for selling a graphic-tee with the Holocaust-symbolic Star of David on it.
Most recently, not only has Urban Outfitters tried to use the 1970 Kent State massacre for profit, but they’ve also trivialized Native American culture with their 2011 Navajo line. As reported by NBC News, the Navajo Nation sued the corporation in 2012 for its use of the Navajo name and the tribe’s symbols. Particularly troubling to the tribe was the corporation’s depictions of a liquor flask throughout the Navajo line.
Each case resulted in a backlash and a feigned apology from the store that can be summed up as, “We are going to pretend we didn’t know that was terrible behavior and apologize for others seeing it as such.”
As for American Apparel, they continue to support the questionable Dov Charney, who holds an important position in their company. According to Jezebel and Business Week, after years of sexually harassing women and enforcing hiring policies that encourage racial discrimination and body-shaming, Charney was fired. However, Charney remains a top, paid consultant to the company.
Shoppers fail to realize that every dollar handed to Urban Outfitters and American Apparel equivocates to another nod of approval of their improper behavior.
What is our excuse? Are we willing to cast aside our principles to “look good?” People like to think there is a wall of separation between us and a company, but there isn’t. It is time to realize that by buying a good from a company, we are supporting that company’s policies. We are funding their paychecks and thus their continued ways.