Fashion retailer Urban Outfitters are continuing to sell St. Patrick’s Day merchandise which has been branded as “stereotypical’ by congressional leaders, despite harsh criticism from the Irish American community.
The global retail outlet, which also operates subsidiaries Anthropologie and Free People, has still not responded to countless media requests from several news organizations, which is a calculated move according to one public relations expert.
“I think Urban Outfitters is right to say nothing,” Paul Allen of Paul Allen and Associates in Dublin told the Irish Voice.
“The store’s target audience is not going to worry about the negative coverage. In fact, as a result of the negative headlines these garments will no doubt fly off the shelves.
“As far as they are concerned all publicity is good publicity.”
Since the Irish Voice first reported on Urban Outfitters’ controversial Irish-themed products two weeks ago, the story has gained traction throughout the media in the U.S. and Ireland.
As well as selling various St. Patrick’s Day themed products in their U.S. stores, there is also a designated “St. Patrick’s Day shop” on their website selling over 30 items, such as “Leprechaun Piss” and a “Kiss me I’m drunk, or Irish, or whatever” t-shirt.
A hat with the slogan, “Irish Yoga: downward facing upchuck,” featuring an inebriated stick figure vomiting shamrocks, has sold out.
A Queens mother-of-three, Tara Finnerty, was so appalled by the products that she sent a letter to Richard Hayne, the CEO of Urban Outfitters.
“Your store’s St. Patrick’s Day merchandise portraying the Irish as fighting drunks is offensive and blatantly prejudiced. Your creative department should focus on producing quality ad slogans,” Finnerty wrote.
“It is very disturbing,” Finnerty told the Irish Voice.
“I have made three phone calls to their head office,” she added.
In the north end of Boston, James Carroll first read about the offensive merchandise in his local bar.
The Limerick man testified that almost everyone in the pub shared his opinion.
“The only thing they (Urban Outfitters) think about at the end of the day is their pocket,” Carroll told the Irish Voice.
“If you did it to another ethnic group they would not stand for it. I have called the office many times and there is nobody there to answer the phone.”
The Irish Voice office in New York has been inundated with calls, emails, and messages from people voicing their disgust over what they say is the flippant portrayal of Irish-American culture.
ABC News, Fox News, the Daily Mail and many other outlets have carried stories on the fallout from the Urban Outfitters Irish line.
The clothing group was also scorned by congressional leaders last week, when an official letter which was sent to their Philadelphia headquarters accused their merchandise of “fueling stereotypes.”
The Ancient Order of the Hibernians has called on the public to boycott the clothing brand.
Testament to popularity of the Urban Outfitters products among some consumers, Irish comedian
Chris O’Dowd, a co-star of last year’s huge hit Bridesmaids and the new film Friends With Kids, tweeted a picture of his fiancé Dawn Porter wearing a t-shirt from the line with the slogan “I’m a f***ing Leprechaun”.
The Roscommon born actor tweeted, “Look what I came home to.”
Repeated attempts by the Irish Voice to contact the press department at Urban Outfitters were unsuccessful on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, last Wednesday it was announced that Navajo, the largest Native American tribe in the U.S. is suing Urban Outfitters for using the tribe’s name on their products, including pullovers, feather earrings and underwear.
The tribe filed the suit last Tuesday in U.S. District Court in New Mexico, accusing the clothing retailer of trademark violation.
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