Thursday, September 18, 2014

In their fashion

I know what it's like to be young and dumb.  We all can, if we think about it, recall instances of sheer stupid behavior committed under the rubric of Knowing It All.  It's a sign of maturity (and I hope to get some sometime!) to be able to pardon the young for their brash excesses and the limits on their experience.

Still, I don't think it's a good idea for major corporations to turn their controls over to 17-year-olds who don't know the first thing about two things from the not-so-distant past. 

The clothing industry seems to be particularly vulnerable to letting the unschooled decide what to manufacture and sell.  Not to be blunt about it, but have these people read a book?

Case A - some Spanish clothing firm named Zara.  In 2007, their handbag line featured a purse that was dotted with swastikas.

How charming.  I'm not going to show you a picture of the purse, but there are swastikas - the symbol of Nazi horrors - all over it. And here is one of the most perfect examples of corporatespeak you'll ever see:

"Had the symbol been seen we would not have sourced that particular handbag," said Zara spokesperson Susan Suett.
"As a precaution we've obviously taken the decision to immediately withdraw the item from sale on being informed of this particular bit of information," she added.

Please read that again and savor the pure unalloyed bullhockey being spread by Ms Suett.  They didn't sell the handbag, you see, They sourced it!  Because they had not been informed of the information that would have told them not to! Zara is owned by the Spanish company Inditex, which is a branch of the multinational corporation Idiotz, I surmise. 

And then, last month, they put on the market a shirt for kids. They called it a "Sheriff's Shirt," and said it was "inspired by the sheriff's stars from the classic Western films."  But, with its stripes, even though they were horizontal rather than vertical, and a six-pointed star, they bore a certain resemblance to the uniforms worn by Holocaust victims from Nazi concentration camps.

Seeing a chance to be at least as obtuse as Zara, Urban Outfitters, a chain here in America whose stores are set up to make you feel as if you are shopping in a recently-abandoned Citgo gas station, decided to hop on the retro craze and salute those golden days of 1970, when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on Viet Nam war protestors at Kent State University, killing four people.  In America. Urban Outfitters offered for sale, at just $129.00 each, this disgusting sweatshirt, replete with fake bloodstains and bullet holes.  But their corporate spokesperson spoke right up: 

 Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.

I believe it was Sheriff Taylor who said, "It's all right to be stupid, but some people just plain overdo it."  I urge the fashion industry to go to school and learn some history, and I urge Zara and Urban Outfitters to go to Hell in a homemade handbasket.

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