Thursday 9 January 2014

Image source: The Guardian website
I'm going to admit something that might seem a little controversial given the circumstances: I love Urban Outfitters. It's one of my favourite places to shop - I may not necessarily be able to afford a lot of it but it's somewhere I get a lot of my clothes from. However, recently I've come to consider whether the brand is worth investing in.

If you haven't heard of the controversy going on with Urban Outfitters then I'll provide a history for you. In 2010, UO sold a t-shirt with the words 'Eat Less' embroidered in white on the front. Yes, really! Celebrities like Sophia Bush (of One Tree Hill fame) worked to get the t-shirt taken off the site and succeeded. Weirdly enough, the description on the item actually said "Eat less or more or however much you'd like in this seriously soft knit tee cut long and topped with a v-neck". Now I don't know about you but that sure isn't what the t-shirt is saying to me. Pair that with the fact the model wearing the t-shirt is clearly very thin and UO have one hefty complaint log.

Image source: Huffington Post
I thought the controversy was behind the brand until this year (bearing in mind there has only been 8 full days in this year). UO has managed to offend again - this time with a crop top with the word 'depression' plastered all over it. Complaints flooded in, yet again, and they had no choice but to take the crop top off the website and issue an apology. Along with the apology came this tweet:

Image source: Twitter

I went on a hunt for the Depression brand and found that their philosophy is: "Because living life the conventional way is depressing". Apparently Depression "represents breaking from boredom, making a statement and standing out." If that isn't insensitive enough then it's worth looking at their collection:

Image source: depression.com.sg

Words fail me at this point but I think you get the gist of it.

UO has always stood out as an edgier brand, and it's most certainly standing out right now. On their corporate website they claim to understand and connect with their customers on 'an emotional level'. So it's quite interesting that they'd feature t-shirts featured around mental illness on their site. Maybe they didn't think it would be that offensive, although when you look closely into the Depression site their message is clear to see.

I don't think the fault is with Depression (the brand) - the creators are obviously trying to be culturally relevant in today's society by using mental illness as their inspiration. UO are responsible and have represented themselves in a destructive manner, especially when you consider their demographic - 18 to 30 years old. They've explained they aren't trying to glamorize mental illness, which may be true but it calls into question the judgement of their buyers.

I really do like the clothes in UO and it's really bad to say but I'll probably buy more clothes from them in the future but I hope they don't feature things like this on their website again.

This is a little bit different for me - I've wanted to focus on important issues for ages and I thought I'd take the chance. Let me know what you think of this new style of writing, and share your thoughts on the Urban Outfitters' controversy. 

much love, 


  1. Omg that's terrible!! I did see the pic of the Depression top doing the rounds on Twitter and was disgusted but didn't really look into it. Depression as a brand sounds awful though. Who has an AW collection called Birth Defects?! That's sick! Urban Outfitters are a great brand and I love their stuff too, but they really should have thought more about who they chose to work with. Although I suppose they believe in the old adage that no publicity is bad publicity x

    Claire | AgentSmyth

  2. This pretty disturbing, at first I was thinking I have no isses- I have depression and think all of these issues can spiral out of control and people will pick anything to say ITS TARGETING ME or bla bla bla but this really is inappropriate and I am glad it's gone! xxx

  3. Quotes and typographic messages tend to be more controversial, especially when it brands like these exist. I guess everything really comes down to the brand image that they wish to construct, and I'm glad that UO made that move. It's important for them to promote positivity and stay positive at all times.

    Check out my outfit post featuring Zara shirt and winter layers :)
    AL xx
    RASSP blog

  4. Thing is, as long as people buy from them and buy that item then they are still going to sell them. The only way to really show your outrage would be to stop buying from them altogether. But they know they can get away with it because although it might make people annoyed for five minutes, like you said you'll still buy from them.

  5. Gosh this is terrible! The first I've heard of it aswell. Brilliant that it was taken off the sit though!xx

  6. This was a really interesting post and really good to address!


  7. This post is really interesting. Urban Outfitters might being trying to be 'edgy' but they clearly crossed the line into insensitive and just a bit ridiculous. It makes you wonder who sits in an office and thinks 'this is a really good idea' to sell a top with depression plastered over it. The Depression brand itself is ridiculous - what they think is taking inspiration from current issues is taking away from the seriousness of it all by making a profit and marketing it as a quirky brand. xx