Urban Outfitters might have guessed that a T-shirt featuring the slogan
"Voting Is for Old People" wouldn't go over well in an election year
where every vote already seems to matter. But in addition to the already mounting protests from its patrons, the retail chain's ironic statement has also generated some competition.
Online clothing retailer Moe Wampum Inc. has added a "Voting Is for All People" T-shirt to its repertoire of satirical tees, to counter what company president Gary Mittin called "political apathy being packaged and sold to America's youth by a certain 'hip' clothing store" (see " 'Voting Is for Old People': Urban
Outfitters Peddles Political Irony").
"I saw the Urban Outfitters T-shirt and thought, 'My God, here is a
major retailer that insults black people one week, Jewish girls the
next, and now they're saying it's cool not to vote," Mittin said. He
was referring to the board game Ghettopoly, pulled from Urban
Outfitters shelves last fall following a public outcry, and this year's
debut of a contentious T-shirt with the slogan "Everybody Loves a
Jewish Girl" surrounded by dollar signs. "I had to do something, so I
took the opposite position and made a shirt."
Moe Wampum's line — which includes items such as the "I Am the
American Dream" shirt worn by Nas in his "I Can" video as well as
several Paris Hilton spoofs — consists of a wide range of shirts
parodying entertainers, politicians and all the scandals in between.
Mittin started the company with his wife in 2000. To reach young
people, he has registered Internet domain names for all his shirts both
to increase access and to avoid complicated copyright laws.
"There isn't a voice out there for anything not put out by the
corporate media," he said. "But no one can tell you what you can wear,
so I say put your feelings on your chest." Though Mittin has been
considering making his shirts available in stores, there's been no
official announcement of plans to do so.
Urban Outfitters responded to critics of its shirt in a recent
statement, explaining it was "never meant to be misconstrued as an
anti-voting T-shirt" and that their intent was to highlight the
disparity between politicians' platforms and young voters' interests.
For more political news, insight into the 2004 presidential election and information on registering to vote, check out ChooseorLose.com.