UO Causes Another Controversy, Sky Is Blue
I mean, it's been, what, 30 seconds since the last Urban Outfitters controversy? I was almost feeling ill at ease without another one. After offending the Hindu community with a pair of religiously-themed socks three weeks ago, UO has now pulled a $59 shirt with the word "depression" printed repeatedly across the garment. The retailer stopped carrying the tee in response to an outcry from consumers that the crop top made light of mental illness.
Obviously, UO has a track record of offensive inventory choices, but zooming in a little bit, it's not the first time the company has been a bit flippant about mental illness specifically. Remember the "Eat Less" shirt? UO's customers did, and paired it with an image of the "depression" shirt to remind the brand of their double whammy. Advocates took to both Facebook and Twitter to raise their concern:
Urban Outfitters responded by acknowledging that they heard consumers, and were removing the shirt from the site:
And also noted that the Singapore-based brand that manufactured the t-shirt is called "Depression":
The next day, UO apologized with a longer Tweet, saying "We're sorry to those offended by the tee we bought from the @DEPRESSIONcomsg brand. We were trying to support a small brand, not glamorize mental illness in any way."
Kenny Lim, co-founder of the Singapore-based manufacturer Depression told ABC News, "I think it’s best we don’t make [the t-shirt] anymore." Don't you think.
As someone who struggles with both depression and anorexia (though I admit I can't remember the last time I stepped into an Urban Outfitters), I have a dog in this fight. I'm not outraged, though: This was just an example of cluelessness from top to bottom. First, don't name your brand after a mental illness. Next, don't sell products emblazoned with it. That's what you get for sleeping through Marketing and Consumer Behavior 101.