Disclaimer: I am in no way casting judgments on anyone who shops at Urban Outfitters. Half of my closet is from that store; this is just a little food for thought rant, bare with me.
I absolutely love fashion. What I love most about it is the creativity and the ability to express oneself. But there are some serious and controversial things happening in the fashion world that I think are important to talk about. With the most recent Urban Outfitters sweatshirt release, I think it’s a perfect time to start speaking up, so please excuse me while I jump up on my soapbox for just a second.
Urban Outfitters is what I like to call every suburban girl’s fantasy. It makes us (yes I am including myself) feel like we are way more urban and hipster than we actually are. Their clothing ranges from basics to very unique vintage pieces, and has a reputation of being fairly expensive. But something most people seem to not know is that the company also has gained a reputation of being very controversial and dare I say, straight up offensive.
The company has had issues with making controversial t-shirts since the early 2000s, including an offensive tee that made an inappropriate Holocaust reference and a shirt offered in a color option of, ‘Obama/Black.’ In more recent news, the company released a grey V-neck that had, ‘Eat Less’ written on it. All of which were followed up with a half-ass apology from the company, which usually included the phrase, ‘we didn’t mean it to be offensive.’
I’m sorry, who the hell is approving this shit?
But what really got me going was the company’s most recent sweatshirt. It is a red, vintage (aka they bought a new sweatshirt and distressed it) Kent State University sweatshirt, which featured what appears to be blood splatter, retailing for $100.
QUICK HISTORY LESSON: in 1970, four Kent State students were shot at 67 times and killed while protesting the Vietnam War. Since the release of this sweatshirt, the University has announced a statement saying, “We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit. This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.”
Maybe it has something to do with my liberal arts education, but a company commercializing such negative messages really rubs me the wrong way. As someone who has struggled with body image issues, should I really be supporting a company that promotes that kind of destructive thinking? As a college student, should I be supporting a company that pokes fun at campus shootings, where people’s friends and classmates were killed?
I am not implying that you have to stop shopping at Urban, nor am I encouraging any one to go picket outside their stores. Although, what I do want to make very clear is that it is important to improve your awareness as a consumer. Some of us wouldn’t eat something without knowing what it is made of. Others wouldn’t take a medicine without knowing the side effects of it, so what makes our clothes any different? From colors to brands to style choices we are making a statement. Like I have said before, your clothing speaks before you do, so shouldn’t we know exactly what the companies we choose to represent are saying as well?
* Drops mic *