In this election year, a lot of organizations are telling young people to put aside their apathy and vote. You might expect Urban Outfitters to be one of them.
But the retail chain, known for its hip clothing and housewares, is currently offering a vintage-style T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan "Voting Is for Old People" in disco-era typography. The shirt has some young voters up in arms and some others calling "no harm, no foul."
Kat Storemski, a 21-year-old Florida resident and enthusiastic first-time voter, came across the shirt while shopping at Urban Outfitters in Orlando. "I do not think it is appropriate to sell anti-voting propaganda to future voters," she said. "I saw young kids laughing at this shirt, and that's what hit me the hardest, the fact that those boys now probably will always disrespect the idea of voting in an effort to 'be cool.' "
She's not alone. Typing "voting is for old people" into Google's search engine returns a list of upset young bloggers as well as several college newspaper stories about the issue.
But John Foster-Keddie, the 26-year-old Yale graduate who designed the shirt for Urban Outfitters, told MTV News that the shirt was not meant to discourage voting. "This shirt's real intention is to sum up the current state of political affairs, pointing a finger at all of us who've been so apathetic in the past."
Urban Outfitters echoed Keddie in a statement released to MTV News on Tuesday (February 17) which read, " 'Voting Is for Old People' was, in fact, never meant to be misconstrued as an anti-voting T-shirt. We fully understand how this shirt might be misinterpreted and we appreciate the arguments that the shirt has raised."
The retailer added that the T-shirt was meant to draw attention to the growing gap between politicians and their platforms and the concerns of young people in this country.
Urban Outfitters is no stranger to walking the fine line between ironic and offensive, as the retailer has pulled or altered two other products in recent months. Earlier this year, a T-shirt featuring the slogan "Everybody Loves a Jewish Girl" surrounded by dollar signs was taken off shelves and redesigned after complaints from the Anti-Defamation League. And last fall, a board game called Ghettopoly — in which playas could collect $50 for getting their neighborhoods hooked on crack — was pulled after the game sparked outrage and protests.
The negative attention over Ghettopoly doesn't appear to have caused financial damage to the Philadelphia-based chain, which also owns Anthropologie. The company reported record sales for the two-month period ending December 31.
What do you think of Urban Outfitters' "Voting Is for Old People" T-shirt? Express yourself in the MTV News Choose or Lose poll.
For more political news, insight into the 2004 presidential election and information on registering to vote, check out ChooseorLose.com