Urban Outfitters: your one-stop destination for historically insensitive chic

First published in Spook Magazine (12.02.15)

Feel like your walls need that extra touch of culturally insensitive decoration to really brighten up the place? Well, look no further. Your trusty Urban Outfitters is proving itself to again be impervious to any sort of moral boundaries.

In what’s becoming a long string of inappropriate design choices, Urban Outfitters has come under fire for selling a tapestry that is blatantly reminiscent of Holocaust imagery.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) have called Urban Outfitter’s grey and white striped wall decoration with pink triangles “eerily reminiscent” to the garb that gay men were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps.

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As part of the ‘Assembly Home’ line, Urban Outfitters were selling the wall hanging for a mere $69 – a bargain, when you consider how in-vogue cultural ignorance is right now.

ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman urged Urban Outfitters to remove the product from their shelves, stating that the striped pattern and pink triangle combination “is deeply offensive and should not be mainstreamed into popular culture”.

The pink triangle was used as an identifier for gay men in the concentration camps, but has since been reclaimed as symbol for gay pride. The company’s ignorance of the meaning behind the use of colours and symbol not only marginalises the victims of the Holocaust, but also leaves us asking the question: what the hell goes on in the design department at Urban Outfitters?

This isn’t the first time that the company have come up against public backlash for offensive and inappropriate product design. In 2013, the brand was castigated for selling black and white striped t-shirts with what looked to be the Star of David on the chest pocket. Yep, they’ve done it twice.

If hanging offensive tapestries on your wall isn’t enough to satiate your desire to be the most culturally inappropriate kid on the block, then never fear, because Urban Outfitters have you sorted.

Why not wear this ‘Kent State’ sweatshirt? It appears to be bloodstained, despite the fact that in 1970 four unarmed Kent State college students were shot by Ohio National Guard during protests against the Vietnam War.

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Or maybe this cute cropped tee with the words “depression” plastered across it in bold black and white. If there’s one way to make mental health less taboo, it’s synthesising the complex issue onto a fun and wearable item of clothing.

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The company has since apologised for both of the items of clothing, claiming they didn’t intend for them to be offensive. They are yet to comment on the tapestry, but the item can no longer be found on their online store.

One hopes that the design team over at Urban Outfitters finally get the hint that this stuff isn’t cool or fashionable or wanted in any way by consumers. Until then, like those pesky culturally ignorant relatives you have to see at Christmas, we may need to pull them aside, sit them down, and give them a history lesson or two. Stay classy, UO.

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