Early on I thought well enough of Urban Outfitters. They carried clothing you didn't see in other stores, and you could get fine denim jeans there as well. However, with time I have soured on their brand quite a bit. In fact, while in NYC over the summer I cringed a touch while visiting the Herald Square location of Intelligentsia Coffee because it's nestled inside an Urban Outfitters. Thank goodness there is an external entrance thus allowing me to circumvent UO altogether.
So, why the disdain? Well, aside from it being Hipster Haven, over the last several years, and probably beyond that for all I know, UO has been justly accused by designer after designer for ripping off their work. As in a, "Hey... here's a really cool design. Screencap it, ship if off to our art department, slap it on a t-shirt, send it to the stores," type of rip-off. No credit to the designer/artist, and no royalties or cut of the profits. None. If that isn't enough, whenever they're called out for it, they typically respond with the token, "Oh, we're sorry. We'll take that down now." It's pretty lame.
However, now there is a new reason to say "No," to UO. That faux-bloody Kent State sweatshirt at the top of this piece? Yea, that's a real sweatshirt that UO recently had up for sale on their website. It's a pretty distasteful nod to the Kent State shootings of May 1970 where four students died, and nine others were wounded. Why would you make a shirt like that? On what level of human consciousness would one consider this idea to be a "good" one? And why would you charge $129 for it? Because that's what they were asking for one. Un. Believe. Able.
The company has since issued an apology for the item, but the damage is already done. You can read their "apology" for it here.
Something like this seems to stem from crass sensibilities that we see increasing throughout society. Things like jokes about AIDS and rape are what this sort of thing is birthed from. And people are completely in the right for decrying such practices, especially when someone is attempting to profit from it. Part of the beauty of a free market is that consumers are free to spend their money wherever they see it fit. Ultimately, if they are compelled for one reason or another not to purchase products from a corporation looking to profit from the tragedy of others, they can choose not to and that company will eventually feel the sting of their business practices. If I were a betting man (of which I am not) I would wager that UO probably will not learn a lesson from this recent incident. They haven't seemed to have learned any lesson about ripping off the original work of other designers...