If it’s in our head, why do we need to wear it on our shirt?
Wherever we go, we are surrounded by depression and being told to ‘eat less.’ From new fad diets exploded in magazines to every day misery. It’s everywhere. Urban Outfitters have recently put themselves out there by retailing a black and white crop top with the word ‘depression’ emblazoned repeatedly. Yes, not a perfect fit.
Urban Outfitters have been known to throw fashion out of the ordinary; in 2010 they sold a women’s t-shirt posed by a ghostly model which read ‘eat less’, just in case you needed reminding. Are they incapable of thinking of a clever stunt to lure customers, or must they really offend, upset and anger their followers? I don’t find it offensive, upsetting or angering – I just find it lame.
They claim that the idea stemmed from ‘Depression’, being the name of the company who made the shirt and often design clothes with monochromatic looks in avant-garde shapes. Their bio page quotes ‘Depression represents breaking from boredom, making a statement and standing out’ – I suppose this reflects their own personal story of breaking out of depression, but why would you want to be reminded of a dark time from the past? Depression say it’s a reminder ‘that when you feel unhappy, you have the power to change that.’ I say, leave it in the past with shag bands, scrunchies and fluffy boots.
Similarly, Asda and Tesco were blasted last Halloween for selling outfits stigmatising people with mental health issues. The ‘scary’ outfits looked like a lost member from Slipknot but many people saw this as offensive and a good example of how we’re stuck in the Dark Ages. Is this excusable just because it’s a Halloween outfit and not ‘fashion’? I feel that we are over-sensitive about many things today and I think brands know that they will offend someone, especially if they’re focusing on a sensitive topic. You may not agree, but I think it’s worth the risk. It’s daring and precarious but they’ve achieved one of the things they wanted – conversation.
So, where do Urban Outfitters go from here? They’ve made their statement, they’ve got people talking about it and after all this palaver they finish off with a sweet, meaningful apology, really. I can imagine many will be ‘boycotting’ buying from them until they see the next, irresistible hipster t-shirt they must have, to blog about. I can’t see Urban Outfitters ever stop from pulling stunts like this – it’s what they’re known for and customers will walk in, trying to get a peek at the t-shirt which says “depression.” Job done, until the next time.