Urban Outfitters “Navajo Collection” clothing and accessories is not only culturally offensive but also illegal. 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. Despite the offensiveness of their line of products, Urban Outfitters has refused to remove these items from their stores or websites!
Did I mention this is also illegal? The Federal Trade Commission Act and Federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, "prohibits misrepresentation in marketing of Indian arts and crafts produced within the United States" and states the following:
"It is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian Tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization, resident within the United States."
None of the items on their website or in their stores are made by Native peoples. Nor do any proceeds go to the betterment of the Navajo Nation. No Navajo people were apparently consulted about this line of offensive material either.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Urban Outfitters has sold offensive products. In January 2004, Urban Outfitters offends Jewish people for selling a T-shirt that says “Everyone Loves a Jewish Girl” surrounded by dollar signs, perpetuating a negative stereotype of Jews. The company discontinued the shirt after a complaint from the Anti-Defamation League. In January 2007, Urban Outfitters pulls kaffiyehs from stores after a blogger criticized the retailer’s decision to label the garment an “anti-war woven scarf.” According to the New York Times, the blogger posted photos of terrorists wearing the tasseled scarves, and the company pulled them from stores with the explanation, “Due to the sensitive nature of this item, we will no longer offer it for sale. We apologize if we offended anyone, this was by no means our intention.”
I am deeply distressed by your company’s mass marketed collection of distasteful and racially demeaning apparel and décor. I take personal offense to the blatant racism and perverted cultural appropriation your store features this season as “fashion.” I find the actions of Urban Outfitters and indeed society's desire for Native cultural genocide despicable.
So tell Urban Outfitters that it is NOT okay to blatantly disrespect Native cultures and perpetuate bias, stereotypes, and discrimination in this country and call for them to dismantle this line immediately!
For More Information on Sasha Houston Brown and her open letter to Urban Outfitters please go to: