All that cuteness comes at big cost. And I’m not talking price tags.
Urban Outfitters has been getting a lot of publicity lately, but not because of a big sale. (Sorry, shoppers.)
The HuffPost Show explains:
The clothing chain for young people with a taste for “bohemian, hipster, ironically humorous, kitschy, retro, and vintage styles” has been up to some shady business.
People like to shop at places with cool stuff. And for that mildly obvious reason, Urban Outfitters’ popularity makes sense. But how many fans of Urban Outfitters would continue their patronage if they found that behind the scenes, the company was the stark opposite of cool?
In a list of “faux progressive companies” — those easily mistaken as “good” and ethical — Alternet’s Lauren Kelley names Urban Outfitters:
“Urban Outfitters is the kind of place that’s filled to the brim with young, cool, vaguely lefty-looking people, but the company itself (which also owns Anthropologie and Free People) has plenty of issues.”
Issues indeed. Here are five important things you need to know about Urban Outfitters:
1. Urban Outfitters has an anti-gay problem.
But homophobia doesn’t just play a role in Hayne’s political agenda. It also affects his business, which is shocking when you think of all the young, progressive LGBT allies who must shop at Urban Outfitters. ThisIsMoney.co.uk once wrote, “Hayne must be the only retailer whose expansion plans depend on no one finding out who he really is.”
2. Urban Outfitters profits from astonishing disrespect.
Rarely does a year go by without news of an Urban Outfitters product scandal. Their offensive goods have made them enemies in the black, Irish, Jewish, and gay communities. They’ve insulted all of Mexico. And if that’s not bad enough, they’ve even profited at the expense of mental health sufferers, the prescription drug abuse epidemic, and people who have been affected by gun violence.
3. Urban Outfitters is like a klepto at a craft fair.
The company has been accused on many occasions of stealing entire designsfrom independent craftspeople and designers. Writer Courtney Heitter speculates that the company takes those chances because of “its dominance within the industry.” She also explains that without copyright protection, the chances of winning a lawsuit against the company are slim. So cover your arses, artists!
4. Again, Urban Outfitters just can’t stop stealing.
They’re not just heisting people’s creative work — they’re freeloading off people’s cultures. In 2012, the Navajo Nation sued Urban Outfitters for trademark infringement when the company released an entire line of “tacky and insensitive” products using the tribe’s name and symbols to turn a profit.
“Because nothing’s cooler,” says the HuffPost Show, “than appropriating Native American identity to brand random crap manufactured in Asia.”
5. Despite all of this, Urban Outfitters is doing better than ever.
Thanks to young, fashion-hungry shoppers, the company achieved record sales of just over $1 billion in the last quarter of the 2015 fiscal year. If the company thinks that grants them license to keep stealing and promoting ignorance and insensitivity, I hope we can all agree their financial success is a problem.
“At Urban Outfitters, backward-minded stereotypes are fashion-forward,” says HuffPost Show. And apparently, so is abusing power and cheating people.
If that sounds like a big ol’ pile of B.S. to you, consider nixing Urban Outfitters for your future wardrobe and tchotchke needs. It’s hard keeping track of and avoiding all the worst companies to shop with these days, but the good news here is you have clear options.
Want unique styles? Check out your locally owned shops, boutiques, and my personal favorites, thrift stores. You’ll not only help your local economy, you’ll also take a little power, dollar by dollar, away from Urban Outfitters.
P.S. Urban Outfitters Inc. owns five brands, so watch out for all of ’em: Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, BHLDN, and Terrain.