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Ethnic groups attack Urban Outfitters

Irish-American group and Navajo Nation say retailer’s products are offensive and misleading

Two ethnic groups are lashing out at Urban Outfitters Inc., saying the retailer, which is popular among young people who enjoy exuding a carefree, ironic attitude, proffers offensive clothing and accessories.

Seamus Boyle, the president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America—the largest Irish-American organization in the U.S.—recently sent a letter to Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters in which he complains about some of the retailer’s St. Patrick’s Day-themed items, including a cap that depicts a drunk person vomiting on shamrocks. He threatened to organize a boycott against the retailer if it doesn’t remove the items from its stores.

“There are those few who use this day as an excuse to over celebrate but that does not give you or anyone else the right to defame and debase a whole race of people by selling the garbage that you display in your stores,” Boyle wrote. “If this is the way you must make your money by debasing a whole race of people I can assure you that with over 40 million people in this country claiming Irish ancestry they will not be your customers after this display of arrogance and disrespect to a whole nation.”

Meanwhile, the Navajo Nation sued Urban Outfitters earlier this week for allegedly violating some of the tribe’s more than 10 registered trademarks and the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which makes it illegal to sell arts and crafts marketed as American Indian-made when they actually aren’t. The tribe’s lawsuit seeks monetary compensation and an order that permanently enjoins Urban Outfitters from using the word Navajo on its products. 

According to the Associated Press, the Navajo Nation previously sent Urban Outfitters a cease and desist letter demanding that it pull the Navajo name from a variety of items, including a liquor flask the tribe called “derogatory and scandalous” because the Navajo Nation doesn’t allow alcohol to be sold or consumed on the reservation.

Ashley Post

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