Western and Native American-inspired prints dominated runways in seasons past and are now filling retail racks across the country. But recent complaints regarding products by Urban Outfitters may have persuaded the retailer to rethink its sales strategy.
The outcry began in June when the Navajo Nation's Department of Justice submitted a cease-and-desist letter to Urban Outfitters CEO Glen Senk, requesting the name "Navajo" be removed from approximately 20 products (including printed panties and a fabric-wrapped flask) being sold by the chain. Lawyers for the Navajo Nation claimed that use of the name violated trademarks and that several of the product were culturally insensitive.
Still, in an Oct. 17 story by the Associated Press, Urban Outfitters stated "it has not heard from the Navajo Nation and has no plans to alter its products."
Enter Tiffanie Wilson of Spring, Texas, who filed an online human rights petition through Change.org, quoting a lengthy letter written by Sasha Houston Brown, a member of the Santee Sioux Nation.
“Urban Outfitters ‘Navajo Collection’ clothing and accessories is not only culturally offensive but also illegal,” Sasha Houston Brown wrote. “As a young Native American women from Minnesota, I find these items to be culturally offensive. Not just to the Navajo people, but to all people of color who find themselves starting at cheap, vulgar, knockoffs of ideas, dress, and culture that are a way of life.” Nearly 13,500 people have signed the petition.
Mid-week the retailer removed the name "Navajo" from its website, opting for the ambiguous term "printed" instead. A little Google-ing led us to cached versions of former "Navajo"-named goods on Urban Outfitters's website that appear to be no longer available.
What do you think the next move from Urban Outfitters should be? What can they do to make good with the Navajo community? Are you still spotting products with the Navajo name at Urban Outfitters locations in Boston? Discuss below.
[Above image via UrbanOutfitters.com screenshot]