Why We Need To Stop Shopping at Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters’ recent controversy of the bloodstained Kent State sweatshirt has been receiving a lot of attention.

The sweatshirt was viewed as a reference to the 1970 Kent State massacre, where four students were shot and killed during a Vietnam War protest. The seemingly blood-splattered sweatshirt was sold for $129 on Urban Outfitter’s “vintage” section.

Unfortunately, this is only one example of the many tasteless products sold at Urban Outfitters. Urban Outfitters has managed to anger African-Americas, Jews, the LGBTQ community and has made light of a variety of important societal issues. In case you missed it, here is a list of some of Urban Outfitters’ infamous controversies:

  • In 2003, Urban Outfitters sold a game called “Ghettopoly,” a racist spoof of Monopoly. One board space labeled “Martin Luthor King Jr.” (intentionally misspelled) depicted an image of Martin Luther King Jr. scratching his genitals with a caption of “I Have an Itch.” Pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers and gangsters are shown throughout the game — using the worst stereotypes to describe the urban community. Scot X. Esdaile, of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, along with many other black leaders, described the game as “sickening and degrading filth,” and immediately protested on its behalf.
  • The protests didn’t slow down Urban Outfitters. In 2005 they released a T-shirt that said, “New Mexico, Cleaner Than Regular Mexico.” This shirt offended much of the Mexican population, stating that this shirt played to the misleading stereotypes that Mexico was dirty and poor.
  • In 2010, Urban Outfitters sold a women’s T-shirt that said “Eat Less.” Many customers spoke out against the tee, stating that it promoted eating disorders and contributed to the societal view that women should be very skinny. One Tree Hill actress Sophia Bush was disgusted and boycotted the store. In the same year, Urban Outfitters followed up with a t-shirt that could be purchased in the colors “White/Charcoal” or “Obama/Black.” Urban Outfitters apologized, claiming that the shirt was actually supposed to be “Obama/Blue.” Seeing their careless and racist past, it’s a little hard to believe it was a mistake.
  • Since 2012, Urban Outfitters has released a shirt with what resembled the Star of David on the pocket, a transphobic greeting card, a tee-shirt covered with the word “Depression” (making light of mental illness) and shot glasses that resembled pill bottles (glorifying prescription drug abuse). Urban Outfitters even pulled a shirt off the market that said “I Support Same Sex Marriages,” believed to be due to the fact that it was against the owner’s conservative beliefs.

Sadly, these are only a few examples of Urban Outfitters’ offensive products. Even more sad, these controversial products typically sell out before they are demanded to be removed from the store. Since the target market for Urban Outfitters are those between the ages of 16-24, the people of our generation are the ones buying and supporting these products.

When you support these products, you are ultimately supporting what they stand for: racism, homophobia, sexism and a variety of social issues. To scold Urban Outfitters for selling these products but continually shopping there is equally wrong. The attention Urban Outfitters receives through releasing these products actually generates them more publicity and increases sales.

So what can we do to put an end to these products? Simple. Don’t shop at Urban Outfitters. Buy overpriced, cheaply made clothing somewhere else. If we want Urban Outfitters to stop selling these products, we need to stop supporting them. If sales go down and enough people speak out against them, they may finally take notice of the bad image they’re creating.