Urban Outfitters is no stranger to scandal, and the retailer has made headlines numerous times in regards to controversial and offensive products. This includes garments like a “blood-splattered” Kent State sweatshirt that many critics felt was an offensive reference to the 1970 Kent State massacre, and a “depression” crop top that critics felt was making a vile fashion statement out of a serious mental condition.

 

With a far from spotless track record, it was lamentably unsurprising when Urban Outfitters came under fire, yet again, for its latest in a long line of insensitive items. The damage this time? A tapestry bearing an unsettling resemblance to the uniforms that gay male prisoners were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust. The item was apparently being sold as a part of the “Assembly Home” line.

 

The ADL called the tapestry "eerily reminiscent" of the uniforms that gay Nazi prisoners were forced to wear in concentration camps (popdust.com)

The ADL called the tapestry “eerily reminiscent” of the uniforms that gay Nazi prisoners were forced to wear in concentration camps (popdust.com)

Urban Outfitters has been urged to remove the item from its inventory by not only consumers, but official organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). According to a statement made by ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman, “Whether intentional or not, this gray and white striped pattern and pink triangle combination is deeply offensive and should not be mainstreamed into popular culture.”

 

While a search for the product on Urban Outfitters’ website turns up no results, suggesting that the item may have been removed after increased pressure from the public, the retailer has still made no official comment on the matter to address concerns directly. However, it’s difficult to deny that crisis management in this instance will require far more than removal of the tapestry, or a statement of apology to pacify the issue. Urban Outfitters has committed far too many transgressions in the past for that to be enough.

 

The reality is that, as a retailer that has made similarly offensive mistakes in the past, Urban Outfitters should have made it their primary priority to rectify its brand image following past crises through actions, not words. Failing to do so has made it increasingly difficult for the public to respect and trust the brand, and this will prove a crisis far harder to remedy than any single instance in Urban Outfitters’ past.


Do you think Urban Outfitters can come back from this most recent controversy after being in this position so many times in the past? Has the company exhausted the public’s tolerance for its offensive missteps? Share your thoughts below or tweet me @tamarahoumi