Urban Outfitters has put yet another offensive product on the market, this time a gray- and white-striped tapestry imprinted with a pink triangle, the whole design reminiscent of the uniforms gay men were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps.
Organizations including the Human Rights Campaign and the Anti-Defamation League issued condemnations of the trendy retailer’s product this week. “Urban Outfitters has seized yet again on imagery of the Holocaust, one of the most abhorrent chapters in world history, in an appalling effort to attract attention,” Fred Sainz, vice president for communications at HRC, said in a press release today. “This is an affront to LGBT people, Holocaust survivors, their families, and anyone with an ounce of humanity.”
While the LGBT rights movement has appropriated the pink triangle and turned it into a symbol of pride, the use of it against the striped background definitely recalls the concentration camp uniforms, the retailer’s critics said.
“We urge Urban Outfitters to immediately remove the product eerily reminiscent of clothing forced upon the victims of the Holocaust from their stores and online,” ADL national director and Holocaust survivor Abraham H. Foxman said in a Monday statement. The group also made that point in a letter to Urban Outfitters president and CEO Richard A. Hayne.
This isn’t the first time Urban Outfitters has marketed merchandise that is offensive to many. Last year it offered a “Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt” that bore a pattern resembling bloodstains. At Kent State University in Ohio in 1970, four students protesting the Vietnam War were killed by National Guard gunfire, and several others were wounded.
Other offensive items have included a T-shirt with an emblem resembling the Star of David that Nazis forced Jews to wear, a shirt with a picture of a rail-thin woman and the words “Eat Less,” and products making unauthorized use of the word “Navajo,” trademarked by the Navajo Nation.” Many of the latter were racially demeaning as well. In 2008, the retailer offered “I Support Same-Sex Marriage” T-shirts, then quickly withdrew them. And a set of “Embarrasing Prank” envelopes marketed in 2009 included one with a return address for “Homosexuals Living in the Closet Society of America.”
The pink triangle tapestry turned up at a store in Boulder, Colo., The Washington Post reports. So far Urban Outfitters hasn’t made any comment on the matter.