When your consumer base comprises easily influenced teenagers all vying to be cool, you’re obligated to watch what you say, what you do, and what you sell. Free speech and capitalistic entitlement be darned—you are obligated to do the right thing. So shame on Urban Outfitters for stocking T-shirts with slogans glorifying substance use like "I Vote For Vodka" and, of course, the ubiquitous marijuana leaf, and in so doing, distributing instances of wearable obnoxiousness.
If a recent survey can be trusted, 86 percent of high school students say they have classmates who use alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs during the school day. Not at home in the evenings. Not on the weekends. During the doggone school day. (Interestingly enough, 86 percent of kids know someone who does it but that basically means most of them are pointing fingers at each other, since no one wants to admit that they’re actually the ones doing the boozing, snorting, and smoking.) That says the problem is not only out of control, but boundaries are evaporating and the spirit of invincibility is on the rise. Anything is going, and doing dirt during the school day is proof positive.
No one in their right mind should feel comfortable trying to sneak off to drink or get high when they’re under the watchful eye of educators and school administrators, nor should they feel like it’s cool to ditch school altogether to do it. That is a scary brand of boldness. And it need not be hyped up or encouraged—or made into bawdy, tasteless T-shirts—by designers capitalizing on high school and college kids’ desire to advertise their penchant for drinking. (Or give the ones trying to fit in by saying they do any more fuel for their phony fire.)
I’m already weary of videos and reality shows that perpetuate this fun, free-wheelin’ picture of the alcohol and drug user’s experience and this hyperactive fascination with sloppy, drunken tommyrot—particularly when substance use is directly tied to all kinds of irresponsibility from drunk driving to heightened rates of unprotected sex. It’s just stupid and tacky to emblazon T-shirts with cheers for downing alcohol and then sell them in a store that panders to kids. It may not cause a statistical increase, but it’s irresponsible merchandising.
Boo to those shirts, Urban Outfitters, and boo to you for stocking them. Do better. (And stop charging so much, while you’re at it. Your clothes are getting more vintage and your prices are getting more futuristic. Pick one.)
Do you think retailers should be conscientious about the clothing they sell or are they just charged with selling the stuff period?
Image via Urban Outfitters