Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How Urban Outfitters Peddles Ironic Conservatism, Hipster Racism and Other Terrible Values

Every company uses consumers to sell products, but Urban Outfitters' way of doing so feels especially slimy.
June 11, 2012

Urban Outfitters is the kind of place where you see a lot of young, idealistic progressive types both browsing the racks and standing behind the cash register. Young Republicans, not so much; for khaki pants, bow ties and pin-striped blazers, you’re better off heading to Brooks Brothers.

In 2008 the company sold all kinds of Obama T-shirts, including one that featured the now-famous Shepard Fairey illustration of the Democratic candidate, and no one batted an eye. College kids and hipsters wanted Obama T-shirts! Many of them would probably buy one today.

Which raises the question: Why on earth is Urban Outfitters now selling T-shirts featuring Mitt Romney?
There are a few reasonable explanations for why the Urban Outfitters Romney tees exist, actually. For one thing, Urban Outfitters (which also owns Anthropologie and Free People) is owned by a far-right conservative, Richard Hayne. All that youthful, vaguely hippie-feeling merchandise in his stores? 

That’s just a way to make some dough – dough that Hayne, in turn, gives to right-wing politicians like Rick Santorum. For Hayne, the young people and lefties who shop in his stores are just chumps to whom he can sell $69 peace-sign tank tops while supporting conservative politics.

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