Blog: Michelle RussellUrban Outfitters in hot water once again

Michelle Russell | 19 December 2013

Ever-sensitive Urban Outfitters has landed itself in hot water again. This time the US teen fashion retailer has managed to offend Hindus with one of its Christmas offerings.

The chain has been selling a pair of US$8 socks depicting the Hindu deity Lord Ganesh.

In Hindu culture, the feet are considered the lowest and most impure part of the body. It is seen as offensive to touch another person with your foot, and shoes are not permitted in religious spaces.

The Ganesh graphics adorning the trim of the socks failed to impress the Hindu community, with the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed, taking to his website this week to air his thoughts on the faux pas: "Lord Ganesh was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be wrapped around one's foot."

While Urban Outfitters has apologised "sincerely" for any offense it caused the Hindu community with the sale of the sock, it is not the first time the company has offended people with its products.

In April last year, the US chain began selling a T-shirt with a pocket patch resembling a symbol worn by Jews in Nazi Europe. A year earlier, the retailer was accused of exploiting the 'Navajo' term, trademarked by the Navajo Nation, through the sale of Native American-inspired wares with 'Navajo' in their titles.

Maybe the company needs to take up Zed's offer of religious and "cultural sensitivity" training for its senior executives before the proverbial hits the fan for the apparel retailer for yet another time.

Sectors: Footwear, Retail

Companies: Urban Outfitters


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