As much as I love Urban Outfitters, it's no secret that the store isn't exactly the epitome of excellent morals. There was that time back in May they ripped off an independent Etsy designer's idea and sold it in stores, and then a few too many incidents where they sold questionable graphic tees -- and OH, just the other day, Miley Cyrus was dissing them for being "against gay equality."
So you can't blame me for being underwhelmed now that they've once again offended an entire group of people. This time, it's the Native Americans' turn, as an upset shopper's open letter to CEO Glen T. Senk is causing some serious backlash on the Interwebs. In it, Sasha Houston Brown, a Native American woman, cites her extreme disgust with the company after a trip to a Minneapolis store where she saw loads of culturally inspired merchandise. She said that the "faux Indian apparel cheapens her culture and her heritage."
I see her point. But some of the items she mentions are sorta cute:
First, let's take a look-see at all the Navajo Print Fabric Wrapped Flask ($18), Peace Treaty Feather Necklace ($39), Staring at Stars Skull Native Headdress T-shirt ($39), or the Navajo Hipster Panty ($8).
I like the flask the best! What can I say, I have a thing for bright colors. Anyway, back to the letter in which Sasha gets super upset and cites the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, which prohibits:
[The] misrepresentation in marketing of Indian arts and crafts products within the United States. It is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian Tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization, resident within the United States.
I'm going to be real for a second: I don't look at any of these items and think that they were made by someone of Native American descent. I take them all at face value: They're probably made in some small factory in China and through buying them, we're just giant posers.
Of course, I definitely believe that Sasha and others of her cultural background are entitled to their feelings over Urban's products. I also believe taking that passion to the next level by writing an open letter to the company's CEO is admirable.
But I do have just one other thing to say: Cultural influence in the realm of fashion is everywhere. Isn't that what all the commentators talk about during the big runway shows at London, Paris, and New York Fashion Weeks? You know, like Beyonce's most recent African-inspired collection. Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel like this sort of offensive manufacturing happens all the time. I'm not saying it's good. But if designers can't pull inspiration from different cultures around the world, where should they get it from instead?
What do you think of Urban Outfitters' Native American-inspired pieces?
Images via Urban Outfitters