Urban Outfitters in trouble for faux “Navajo” products

Urban Outfitters currently has 23 products labeled has “Navajo” on their website 13 products are described as the more generic term “tribal”.  There is a possibility that the company could be sued for their use of the word “Navajo” after the CEO received a scathing letter from a Native American named Sasha Houston Brown.

“As a Native American woman, I am deeply distressed by your company’s mass marketed collection of distasteful and racially demeaning apparel and décor,” Brown writes.  “I take personal offense to the blatant racism and perverted cultural appropriation your store features this season as ‘fashion.’ ”

According to the letter, Urban Outfitter is basically selling knockoffs of traditional Native American arts and crafts. The Federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 deliberately prohibits the implication that an item is Native American made when it is not. Urban Outfitters could be fined up to a million dollars. The letter goes on to say:

“I doubt that you consulted the Navajo Nation about using their tribal name on sophisticated items such as the ‘Navajo Hipster Panty,’ ” Brown jabs.  “It is this kind of behavior that perpetuates the stereotype of the white man’s Indian and allows for the ongoing commodification of an entire ethnic group.”

Although the trends of the season are tribal no ready to wear designer has specifically labeled their design’s “Navajo”


Images Courtesy of Urban Outfitters


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