Urban Outfitters Half-Admits It Was Selling a Plagiarized Skirt
The Urban Outfitters PR team also sent us and other news outlets this statement:
We take matters such as this very seriously and removed the product as soon as this was brought to our attention. Urban Outfitters has worked with Society6 since 2010 to help bring awareness and sales to their creative network of artists. As long-time supporters of Society6 and independent creatives, we would never intentionally appropriate their work. The origin of the design is still being investigated with the designers at BAMBAM Cloth. We appreciate your patience while we work to resolve this issue.
Meanwhile, over on Twitter, they assured everyone who tweeted about the plagiarism that their concerns were heard and understood:
If that wording sounds at all familiar, that's because it's a template they've used before, back in January, when people got upset over the chain selling shirts that read "Depression" and "Eat Less:"
@ImaC4tt We know + we hear you. Both of these shirts have been removed from our site and are no longer for sale.— Urban Outfitters (@UrbanOutfitters) January 5, 2014
UO has publicly apologized for lots of other things in the past, including selling shirts festooned with dollar signs and the words "Everybody Loves a Jewish Girl," a shirt that ripped off the logo of the United Farm Workers, and for selling socks with the Hindu god Ganesh on them. But this is the first time they've admitted they were selling something that looked to be plagiarized.
Their newfound transparency only goes so far, though. Upon receiving that statement, we asked the company a series of follow-up questions about how they handle alleged plagiarism from the companies they work with: how do they investigate these incidents? Do they cut ties with companies who sell them ripped-off designs? (In at least one case, the answer to that is no. United Couture, the company selling the ripped off "Weird Girl" shirt, is still featured on the UO website. Right now the only item of United Couture clothing for sale is a hoodie that reads "Indian Summer.")
Urban Outfitters didn't respond to any of these follow-up questions. Bambam has also failed to respond to two requests for comment.
Still. Baby steps.