Sometimes irony can be more trouble than it's worth. That's the lesson clothing retailer Urban Outfitters seems to be learning after yanking a controversial T-shirt off its shelves.
Under pressure from voting organizations, a group of Harvard professors and others, including hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, the chain pulled a retro-style tee sporting the slogan "Voting Is for Old People" from its 57 stores in North America (see " 'Voting Is For Old People': Urban
Outfitters Peddles Political Irony"). In a
statement, the company cited "continued misunderstanding surrounding the intended message" of the shirt's creator as the reason (see "
'Voting Is For All People: Web Site Spins Urban Outfitters' Irony").
The shirt was created by T-shirt maker Vintage Vantage, headed by 26-year-old Yale grad John Foster-Keddie, who says the tee was intended to be an ironic jab at "all of us who've been so apathetic in the past." In a statement to MTV News, Keddie said, "So we're banned in the USA, just like 2 Live Crew! We think it's hilarious."
While the shirts were to be pulled by late Friday, an MTV staffer easily purchased the tee at a Manhattan Urban Outfitters on Monday (March 8).
"It was purely a mistake on the store's part, purely an oversight," said a company spokesman. "As of Friday night, all the shirts were supposed to have been taken off the shelves."
The controversy was sparked after 21-year-old Florida resident Kat Storemski complained about the shirt after visiting an Orlando Urban Outfitters. After writing a letter to youthvote.org, support for her argument began to snowball.
Having been barraged with hate mail since appearing on MTV with a doctored version of the shirt reading "Voting Is for All People," Storemski said she's extremely pleased by Urban Outfitters' decision. "Even if it is just a shirt, it got the message out there that voting is a big deal," she told MTV News.
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