Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Another day, another offensive retail item at Urban Outfitters.
The retailer issued apologies to Hindus everywhere yesterday after pulling a pair of socks from their inventory which featured Lord Ganesh, a God Hindus worship for wisdom and removing obstacles.
The $8 colorblock red-and-blue socks were described by Urban as "awesome" and an "UO Exclusive" but the item struck many Hindus as offensive, especially Rajan Zed, the President of Universal Society of Hinduism.
"We sincerely apologize if we offended the Hindu community and our customers," Crystal Carroll, Urban's public relations manager, wrote to Zed in an email. "We appreciate Rajan Zed and the Universal Society of Hinduism for bringing this matter to our attention and for helping us understand the cultural and religious sensitivities this product carries. We will remove the Ganesh Socks immediately from our website and stores."
The socks were offensive in Zed's eyes because, "Lord Ganesh was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines, not to be wrapped around one's foot," he explained in a statement. "Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees."
Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion in the world, but whether big or small, symbols of faith should not be mishandled, Zed added.
Urban's Jewish star tee was removed from stores in 2012 after outrage.
Urban Outfitters is not a stranger to these types of controversies. In 2011, the Navajo community sued the Philly-based company over trademark for items such as the "Navajo Hipster panty." Last year, the company sold a $100 "Wood Wood Kellog Tee," which featured the yellow star Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust. Classy.
Zed, in his statement, suggested senior executives of corporations should attend training in religious and cultural sensitivity so they might understand what feelings certain products might evoke.
· Urban Outfitters apologizes to Hindus & removes Lord Ganesh socks from stores & web [Rajan Zed]
· Urban Outfitters Under Fire Again: This Time From the Navajo Nation' [Racked]
· Who Should Really Be Outraged in the $28 Million Lawsuit Against Urban Outfitters and Blood is the New Black?' [Racked]