Urban Outfitters has once again found itself in the the center of controversy. Recently, The Anti-Defamation League condemned Urban Outfitters for selling a t-shirt with a symbol that looks like the yellow Star of David Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Europe. The t-shirt at issue, called “Wood Wood Kellog Tee,” is mustard colored with a 6 pointed blue star patch on the pocket.
The Anti-Defamation League issued a letter of condemnation to Urban Outfitters charging that one of its products “…represents a new low.” Barry Morrison, ADL Regional Director, wrote to Richard Hayne, Chairman, President and CEO of Urban Outfitters. Morrison said, “We find this use of symbolism to be extremely distasteful and offensive, and are outraged that your company would make this product available to your customers.”
The clothing company is no stranger to controversy. In March, the company sold a line of Irish-themed clothing and accessories that U.S. Congress said portrayed “severe and negative stereotypes.” In Oct. 2011, Sasha Houston Brown, a 24-year-old Native American woman from Minnesota, wrote a letter to the company about a line of “Navajo” items she claimed were “cheap, vulgar and culturally offensive.” And on Feb. 28, the Navajo Nation sued Urban Outfitters for violating its trademark by selling the clothing and accessories.
The Navajo Nation said in its lawsuit that even after Urban Outfitters removed the word “Navajo” from its products on its website, it “continued to sell its products in its retail stores under the ‘Navajo’ and ‘Navaho’ names and marks. Moreover, defendant also continued to use the word ‘Navajo’ on its sales receipts.”
In the midst of all this controversy, WoodWood contacted the Huffington Post and issued this statement, “As some of you are aware, several news sites have been writing about our “‘Kellog’ T-shirt, which features an image of a six-pointed star, allegedly similar to the yellow badge Jews were ordered to wear by the German nazis. First of all the graphic is not the Star of David, and I can assure you that this is in no way a reference to judaism, nazism or the holocaust. The graphic came from working with patchwork and geometric patterns for our spring/summer collection ‘State of Mind’. However when we received the prototype of this particular style we did recognize the resemblance, which is why we decided not to include the star patch on the final production T-shirt. I assume the image people have reacted to come from Urban Outfitters´ web site. This must be a photograph of an early sample, which is of course an error. Here is the actual T-shirt as it is in stores. I am sorry if anyone was offended seeing the shirt, it was of course never our intention to hurt any feelings with this.”