Clothing designers are particularly skilled at cashing in on nostalgia by bringing “retro” products to market with designs reminiscent of bygone times. Urban Outfitters, however, may have made a critical misstep with one of their recent men’s shirts that has drawn an unsettling comparison to shirts that the Nazis made Jews wear during the Holocaust.
The Jewish Anti-Defamation League recently called out Urban Outfitters for an unfortunate T-shirt design sold by Urbn Inc. They insist that the offending product – with its yellow hue and six-pointed star over the breast – was designed deliberately to offend Jews. As far as the ADL is concerned, the fact that the T-shirt’s release coincided with National Holocaust Remembrance Day added insult to injury.
"It's a new low in Urban Outfitter's consistent use of various offensive messages in what appears to be a quest for attention," the ADL’s regional director Barry Morrison told Fox News. “We are very troubled by it. The juxtaposition of the six-pointed star on a yellow shirt brings about associations with the yellow Star of David that the Jews were forced to wear. A symbol marking Jews as subhuman -- setting them apart and ultimately paving the way for their annihilation."
Urban Outfitters declined to comment on the controversy, but the shirt’s manufacturer reached out to the Jewish community to apologize for what they called an oversight. They assured the ADL that the logo was simply a “patchwork and geometric patterns.” Not a Star of David.
Morrison was satisfied by the manufacturer’s apology, but had harsh words for Urban Outfitters:
"Urban Outfitters has a long history of putting out products that are problematic. They have offended Jews, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Irish-Americans and Catholics. For St. Patrick's Day, they released a T-shirt with the words, 'Irish I was Drunk.' They have also released products like 'Ghettoopoly' or a Jesus doll on a cross that could be dressed up in different outfits, including a costume of the devil.
“They have continuously crossed the line into incivility," he added. "We have asked them in the past to meet with us so we can discuss these issues, but we have never received a reply. There is a way to be successful without offending or belittling people."