Fashion retailers are an edgy bunch. In their attempts to “push boundaries” and connect with their desired hipster customer base, it seems they’ll go to some surprising (read, shocking) lengths. From American Apparel’s crass “Period Power” t-shirt (do NOT Google if you’re doing lunch al desko) to Topman’s “Nice New Girlfriend: Which Breed Is She?” logo tee, you could be forgiven for thinking that such major international corporations do not in fact have a merchandise approval process at all. They’re so ahead of the cultural zeitgeist that abhorrent, taboo-emblazoned clothing makes their brand stand out as sophisticated and witty against the so-so, politically correct competition. Risky? Yes. Revolutionary? Definitely not. Utterly misguided and moronic? Affirmative.
A controversial “bohemian” repeat offender is Urban Outfitters, who in the past have sold garments offending Irish people, Mexican people, the Jewish community and the Navajo tribe, not to mention countless others with their insightful “Ghettopoly” board game, prescription drug themed homeware and gun-shaped Christmas decorations
Another insensitive, distasteful and downright stupid release was their 2010 “Eat Less” t-shirt, modelled by an extremely thin, unhappy looking model and marketed to a particularly vulnerable, impressionable demographic. The pro-anorexia style statement was removed from the website in 2011 following harsh criticism, but remained in stores to torment, belittle and mock the store’s young customers, not to mention make the company profit. Despite such disreputable faux pas, it seems that Urban Outfitters are yet to learn their lesson. Now they’re dressing up another debilitating illness: depression.
The item of clothing in question is a cropped, monochrome t-shirt featuring the word ‘depression’ printed on the fabric in multiple fonts and directions. How fun. The accompanying product description enlightens us as to the idea behind the tee:
“Because living life the conventional way is depressing.”
Simple, non? Whilst the t-shirt is in fact made by a brand called ‘Depression’, the fallacy and insensitivity of such a large company both stocking it and enjoying the proceeds is irresponsible and shameless to say the least. We’re not surprised - Urban Outfitters are evidently lacking in the ethical guidelines department - but we are deeply disappointed that floating mental illness as fashion was deemed commercially viable in the first place.
The t-shirt has now been removed from the retailer’s website (actually, it’s SOLD OUT apparently), and Urban Outfitters have issued a feeble non-apology via Twitter:
“Hey everyone, we hear you and we are taking the shirt down from the site.”
How about truly making amends, changing your attitude and using your financial power and notoriety to support the very causes that you make light of? We’re just thinking outside the box here.