Awareness, Feminism | Posted by Julie Z on 07/10/2009

well wtf am i supposed to buy?

So apparently there are no clothing options for me that are both ethical purchases and not something my grandma would squeal over. 

Over at jezebel they posted about the Urban Outfitter’s Ethics Survey – basically checking whether employees will smoke pot on the job or not, or more accurately, whether or not they can effectively lie. 68 statements that you can either strongly agree-disagree with, and unless you are a complete idiot, you should be hired soon enough. 

With statements like: 

Most employees get high on the job at one time or another.
Smoking a marijuana cigarette is the same as having a drink.
Some people work as well slightly high as they do sober.

what the checklist should be...

what the checklist should be...


They seem a little preoccupied with the marijuana. I’ve been in that store a lot lately. Their concern makes sense, to say the least. I mean, for god’s sake, they’ve sold a shirt with a marijuana leaf on it that says “legalize it” who the hell do they think they’re attracting? 

Why not ask about stealing? Urban Outfitters apparently has a history of stealing small clothing companies’ designs. There’s a blog devoted to it. Urban Counterfeiters. Clever. But still. They have some legit examples. Which makes me pretty sad…I like Urban Outfitters. They fulfill my skinny pant/V-neck needs. 

But I guess I don’t want to support big corporations taking advantage of true individuals. How about anthropologie? They’re Urban Outfitter’s sister company…not as cutting edge/pro-marijuana legalization, but still funky. 

mary kate olsen: the definition of bohemian chic...and skinny white girl

Mary Kate Olsen - the epitome of bohemian chic...and skinny white girl

BUT OH WAIT NOT SO FAST. Anthropolgie has some disgustingly racist tendencies, as relayed by a former employee. Employees are instructed to follow “blac–er, African American” shoppers, as everyone knows they have a higher tendency to shoplift (asfasdfkldjsf). Also, people of color and suspected lesbians are thrown in the back where the shoppers can’t see ‘em. All to support the image Anthro is selling to all the 20-30 year old white women who fancy themselves bohemian chic.

Sweet Jesus.



Then we’ve all heard about Abercrombie’s discrimination lawsuit: hiring less women, latinos, african americans and asian americans than white men, targeting fraternities and sororities for hiring – overall just hiring based on skin color and gender not qualifications.

Abercrombies employees

Abercrombie's employees

Disgustingness I can’t support by buying their clothes. And Abercrombie also encompasses Hollister, so that’s out. Oh yeah, and I sort of feel like I’m either being squeezed to death or encouraged to show thong when I’m wearing their stuff. 




Then there is the feminist’s nightmare that is American Apparel. Made in America, that’s great, right? Well, yes, we are eliminating the element of slave labor, that’s always a plus. But then there are their ads.

I’ve heard “artsy” and “unique” as adjectives applied to AA’s ads, which certainly are different. But I think this quote from an NYU reporter put it best: “Photographs of young women in compromising positions, some as young as 15, are juxtaposed alongside text giving accounts of meeting the models on the street and inviting them to be photographed, conveying the feeling of some sort of perverted conquest.”



come on with this shit

come on with this shit



 Then there are the two separate sexual harassment cases against Dov Charney, founder and senior partner, who sounds like a complete and total doucheperv.  Apparently, Charney exposed himself to both women, invited one to masturbate with him and ran business meetings at his house next to naked, and sought to hire young women with whom he could have sex, preferably Asians. When asked about this, Charney said the women were suffering from a “victim culture.” Yeah, because women who are sexually harassed are probably just asking for it. Always. But then he continued, saying, “Out of a thousand sexual harassment claims, how many do you think are exploitative? Women initiate most domestic violence.”

Oh. No. He. Didn’t. And also, they may not employ slave labor, but they’re anti-union. Which makes perfect sense. Not.

Okay, so just to make this clear: Urban Outfitters – plagiarize designs. Anthropologie – racist, possibly homophobic, over all close minded. Abercrombie – discriminators and sexist. American Apparel – pandora’s box of misogynistic ugly. 


Well, there’s modcloth, which is always a good option. If you want to get really hardcore, there’s AuH20 or  Outspoken Clothing. Point is — there are always other options. It might be easy to walk into a store that is run by a misogynistic asshole, but it’s also pretty easy to get online and find something unique, not corporate, and KIND TO EVERYONE! Happy hunting, fellow feminists!

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  • Mati @ at 12:33 pm, July 10th, 2009

    Etsy! And the thrift store + your sewing machine.

    About unions: in general, I support them. But these days they’re of limited utility where employees are already fairly compensated and working conditions are good. Employees are forced to pay for services they’ll never need if the company is already fair. And they make it hella hard to fire employees who aren’t doing the job – which is demoralizing to everyone. else.

  • Bethany Elfrink @ at 1:36 pm, July 10th, 2009

    I hate Dov Charney. Oh. Dear. God. He is such filth. Plus, American Apparel’s clothing is completely unrealistic. Unless you are a size double zero you are not going to “work” the shiny spandex tights.

  • Bethany Elfrink @ at 1:38 pm, July 10th, 2009

    Oh, but modcloth = perfection!

  • Jack Burton @ at 2:36 pm, July 10th, 2009

    Urban Outfitters/ Anthropologie’s CEO is openly gay. Glen Senk. There are plenty of worse things happening in the world to complain about….The American Apparel ads are HUGE.

  • Abby @ at 4:30 pm, July 13th, 2009

    Thrift it. Make it.

  • Jimmy @ at 3:02 am, July 14th, 2009

    @Jack Burton The gender orientation of CEO of Urban Outfitter/Anthropologie does not make the above policies any less offensive and discriminatory. What you’re saying is similar to saying that it’s not a serious problem if a woman campaigns around the country telling girls to be more traditional to attract guys and when they do shut up and follow their husbands, because it is a female sending message of misogyny.

    I began to think that AA ads are a kind of softcore porn. With exposure of nipples in their uni-sex bow tie ads, I think my observation is correct.

  • Christina @ at 3:56 am, July 14th, 2009

    so where CAN I shop? I even applied to work at urban cause I thought they were less offensive. Oh well.

  • Julie Z @ at 10:22 am, July 16th, 2009

    I found about a new feminist friendly site –

    the woman who runs it is an fbomb reader and a feminist. if you’re wondering where to shop definitely show her some love!

  • K8 AH @ at 9:30 pm, August 15th, 2009

    Support all of the DIY People of Etsy!

  • J @ at 3:38 am, May 17th, 2010

    Finding this post a little late but oh well.

    I work for Anthropologie. No, I’m not in management, I’m not from corporate, and I’m not getting paid to say this. I just really love our store. Maybe it varies by location, but I don’t find any of those things true in our store. I have many coworkers who are not white, several who are very high level and respected managers who have been with the company for years, and none who work in the stock room. Our managers are incredibly respectful of us and our personal styles….many of us have tattoos and piercings and are allowed to openly show them (full sleeves, lip and septum piercings, the works). That kind of tolerance is not so common in retail. We also have “suspected lesbians” too, it’s a complete non-issue.

    As far as following black customers for shoplifting potential, yes it happens. But it happens if you’re white too. Bottom line, our managers tell us if they look shady, follow them. Trust your gut. So all kinds of customers get followed. The problem is the individual employee in that situation, not the company. One individual might flag someone as a shoplifter, where another employee would never think to. It’s all about what someone is comfortable with. We’re always told to flag people not by what they look like, but by their behavior. It’s always the much more telling sign.

    All I will say is that I have never, EVER, been told to follow someone because they’re black. or white. or hispanic. or asian. I’m kind of appalled that even happened at one of our stores. I really think it was a bad call that was made by an ill-informed individual. Unfortunately, with the amount of theft we deal with in the store (it is epic) some people feel they can’t be too careful and watch anyone they suspect in the slightest bit.

    I hope that gives you another side of the story. Maybe it’s the fact that we’re a west coast store in a major city, but there is a lot of tolerance. The west coast regional office is out of our store as well, so they see everything we do and don’t tell us to do anything different. Which means corporate is a-OK with having blacks, hispanics, asians, and gays out of the floor representing our image.

  • Kacie Whish @ at 12:12 am, June 7th, 2010

    I’m beginning to think things are getting better for everybody so they can finally be themselves.

  • Courtney @ at 1:01 pm, May 23rd, 2012

    I still think unions are great and it’s a shame more employees are not protected by unions.
    I don’t think you’re instantly covered from being fired but you are protected from being arbitrarily fired. Unfortunately I live in a “right to work state” which means your employer can fire you for just about anything.

    Very few companies pay living wages/salaries to their employees and provide good health insurance. I’m all for employees getting a fair piece of the pie.

    CEOs are earning hundreds time more than employees in spite of the company having more than enough money to compensate employees fairly.

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