October 19, 2011

Urban Outfitters renames "Navajo" products

So-Called Navajo Products Vanish from Urban Outfitters WebsiteBy Friday, the clamor seemed to have peaked, leaving us wondering “What’s Next for the Urban Outfitters Navajo Case?”

Nothing, it seemed. But today, a search on the Urban Outfitters site for “Navajo” returns no results.
And:The “Navajo Print Fabric Wrapped Flask” is now the “Printed Fabric Wrapped Flask.” The “Navajo Sock” is now the “Printed Sock.”

Same products, different names. For the Navajo, Sasha Houston Brown, and others who made their feelings known, the simple Printed Hipster Panty might also be called the Righteous Undergarment of Cultural Victory.

The war isn’t over (indeed, Sasha objected to the products themselves, not just their names), but a battle has been won.

Urban Outfitters pulls ‘Navajo’ name from products on website in wake of criticismUrban Outfitters last week told The Associated Press it had no plans to alter its products. The online name changes were first reported by Indian Country Today.

The Navajo Nation Department of Justice said Wednesday the changes were “positive” and “more consistent with the corporation’s responsibilities than previously demonstrated.”

“If the company has also ceased using the Navajo name in conjunction with its merchandise in its retail stores and print-media advertising, these are encouraging steps by the company towards amicably resolving this matter,” the department said in a release.

The tribe holds at least 10 trademarks on the Navajo name that cover clothing, footwear, online retail sales, household products and textiles, and said it was intent on protecting those trademarks.

But the war's not over yet:

Urban Outfitters still selling ‘Navajo’ clothing despite criticismCLOTHING CHAIN URBAN Outfitters is still selling ‘Navajo’ branded clothing in Europe, despite coming under fire from the Native American group over its use of their name.

Critics have said the line of Navajo clothing and accessories were disrespectful and offensive–and that Urban Outfitters are profiting inappropriately from the name of the tribe.

A Navajo-branded hip flask has been a particular target for anger, as the reservation has a serious problem with alcoholism. A line of women’s knickers has also been criticised as inappropriate for a Navajo culture which preaches modesty.

Urban Outfitters has removed the Navajo name from its US website, with the items in question now simply marked as “printed”. However, the name is still in use on its UK online store, which also services Ireland.
Comment:  Despite the UK website, this is an awesome victory. Once again, people power kicks the butt of a corporate giant.

For more on Urban Outfitters, see Jezebel Surveys "Navajo" Fashions and Why Protest Urban Outfitters?

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