Urban Outfitters just loooooves getting into trouble. The latest controversial t-shirts hanging on the retailer's shelves have nothing to do with racism, politics or the Holocaust but rather underage drinking: a slew of pro-drinking tees have grown-ups in a tizzy.
Truly Madly Deeply's "Vote For Vodka" Muscle Tee and "USA Drinking Team" Tank Top are two of the items that caught Yahoo Shine's eyes. As Shine points out, the styles are presented on UrbanOutfitters.com on what appear to be teen models, which would make sense: Urban Outfitter's biggest demographic is 18-24 year-olds while the under-18 demo is its second. (We're dating ourselves here, but our high school wardrobes were chock full of Urban clothes.)
It's plain to see why parents might be upset. Jan Withers, national president of MADD (Mother's Against Drunk Driving), told Shine, "Kids shouldn't be wearing these t-shirts... Marketing [alcohol-related products] to teens is not in any way acceptable." Urban Outfitters isn't the first: Forever 21 came under fire in 2008 for selling cute tees with phrases like "beer is my anti-drug" and "save water, drink beer" and various beer company logos to its teen customers.
At this point, Urban Outfitters should have a strict script to dealing with these controversies. There were the "Navajo" panties that got them sued by the Navajo Nation; the yellow star tees that evoked the Holocaust; the St. Partick's Day tees that mocked Irish stereotypes of drinking; the "Ghettopoly" board game full of all sorts of racist stereotypes; the arguably pro-ana "Eat Less" t-shirts; the "Everybody Loves a Jewish Girl" tees covered in shopping bags and dollar signs... honestly, we could go on and on.
Not all of these controversies garnered the same amount of outrage, of course. But Urban Outfitters does know its way around a negative headline.
So far the "Vote for Vodka" and "USA Drinking Team" shirts are still available online; a third style, the "Drink Before U Think" Oversized Tee, appears to have been pulled down. Do you think Urban Outfitters should be selling these shirts, potentially to teen customers?
See more Urban Outfitters controversies:
Irish Drunk Scoop
In March 2012, Urban Outfitters began selling St. Patrick's Day-themed clothing that included shirts with derogatory statements about Irish people, such as: "Irish I Was Drunk." These shirts received negative reactions from Irish-Americans and were pulled. (<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/01/urban-outfitters-st-patricks-day-clothes-_n_1313242.html" target="_hplink">Urban Outfitters</a>)
In June 2010, Urban Outfitters released this t-shirt with this description: "Eat less or more or however much you'd like in this seriously soft knit tee cut long and topped with a v-neck." They should have printed that whole description instead of just "eat less" which seems to promote an unhealthy lifestyle and body image. (<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/03/eat-less-urban-outfitters_n_598904.html" target="_hplink">Urban Outfitters</a>)
Catalog Photo Condemned
Urban Outfitters <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/17/urban-outfitters-lesbian-kiss-photo-one-million-moms_n_1431134.html" target="_hplink">received heat</a> from anti-gay groups for this photo in their April 2012 catalogue depicting two female models kissing. A group known as One Million Moms wrote on their website: "On page two of this catalog is a picture of two women kissing in a face holding embrace!...The content is offensive and inappropriate for a teen who is the company's target customer." (<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/17/urban-outfitters-lesbian-kiss-photo-one-million-moms_n_1431134.html" target="_hplink">Urban Outfitters</a>)
In April 2010, Urban Outfitters pulled a t-shirt from their online store with a color option of 'Obama/Black.' The store had produced Obama-themed shirts but none of them with this color description. In response, the store released this statement: "The burnout pattern on this shirt is comprised of two colors - one is an internally developed color we called "Obama Blue" and the other is "Black." Unfortunately our website database truncate this combination to read "Obama/Black." We should have caught the error, and apologize for offending anyone." (<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/01/urban-outfitters-obamabla_n_444220.html" target="_hplink">Urban Outfitters</a>)
'Tranny' Greeting Card
In March 2012, Urban Outfitters came under fire for a greeting card that was deemed transphobic by LGBT advocates. (<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/19/urban-outfitters-tranny-greeting-card_n_1364589.html" target="_hplink">Urban Outfitters</a>)
Kiss Me Tee
Another derogatory t-shirt against Irish and Irish-Americans saying: "Kiss me. I'm Drunk, or Irish, or whatever." (<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/01/urban-outfitters-st-patricks-day-clothes-_n_1313242.html" target="_hplink">Urban Outfitters</a>)
Irish Yoga Trucker Hat
Surprisingly, the offensive St. Patrick's Day-themed items have not been pulled from Urban Outfitters' shelves, even when this trucker cap outraged Irish and Irish-American people. (<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/01/urban-outfitters-st-patricks-day-clothes-_n_1313242.html" target="_hplink">Urban Outfitters</a>)
Jewish Star T-Shirt
In April 2012, Urban Outfitters angered the Jewish community by selling a $100 shirt that critics said mimicked the design of star patches Jewish people were forced to wear during the Holocaust. (<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/20/urban-outfitters-jewish-star-tshirt_n_1441731.html?ref=style " target="_hplink">Urban Outfitters</a>)
I Heart Destination Necklaces
In May 2011, an independent jewelry designer accused Urban Outfitters of stealing her designs. She wrote on her blog: "I understand that they are a business, but it's not cool to completely rip off an independent designer's work." Urban pulled the collection. (<a href="http://imakeshinythings.tumblr.com/post/5855716317/not-cool-urban-outfitters-not-cool" target="_hplink">I Make Shiny Things</a>)
I Support Same Sex Marriage T-Shirts-
Amidst the dealings of Proposition 8 in 2008, Urban Outfitters began selling shirts that said, "I Support Same-Sex Marriage." The shirts were pulled a week later. (Courtesy photo)
Hailey Clauson T-Shirt
Model Hailey Clauson posed for photographer Jason Lee Parry when she was just 15-years old. Parry released this photo of Clausen to Urban Outfitters, which he had agreed not to release when the young model's agency complained about the salacious nature of the "crotch shot" pose. The photo became a t-shirt and Clauson sued Urban Outfitters and Parry for damaging her reputation. (Courtesy photo)
In 2003, Urban Outfitters began selling a Monopoly knockoff called Ghettopoly, complete with "Hustle" bonus cards and "Smitty's XXX Peep Show." The game angered the African-American community and Rev. Glenn Wilson of Philadelphia called for a boycott, saying, "There's no way that game could be taken in any way other than that this man had racist intent in marketing it." (Courtesy photo)
Vote For Vodka & USA Drinking Team T-Shirts
Although Urban Outfitter's biggest demographic is 18-24 year-olds, the company is selling shirts that encourage underage drinking. Jan Withers, national president of Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says, "Kids shouldn't be wearing these t-shirts...Marketing [alcohol-related products] to teens is not in any way acceptable." (<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/28/urban-outfitters-drinking-t-shirts_n_1836859.html?utm_hp_ref=style" target="_hplink">Urban Outfitters</a>)
In October 2011, Urban Outfitters offended Native Americans by describing some of their products as "Navajo." The Native American-inspired items received heat from the Navajo Nation, whose attorney general sent the store a cease-and-desist letter. (<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/20/urban-outfitters_n_1022663.html">Urban Outfitters</a>)