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Urban Outfitters Navajo Hipster Panty Illegal?

urban outfitters navajo hipster panty

Photo: Urbanoutfitters.com

The Navajo Hipster Panty for sale on Urban Outfitters' Web site

Urban Outfitters is no stranger to controversy, but this time, they might just be messing with the law.

The retailer’s latest gaffe comes from the underpinnings department via a pair of boy shorts dubbed the Navajo Hipster Panty. A reference to the Native American tribe on underwear could be considered a bit insensitive, but one blogger points out that it may be illegal as well.

Sasha Houston Brown’s open letter to Urban Outfitters CEO Glen Senk points out that “the company’s actions violate the Federal Indian Arts and Crafts act of 1990 and the Federal Trade Commission Act. According to the Department of the Interior: ‘The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-644) is a truth-in-advertising law that prohibits misrepresentation in marketing of Indian arts and crafts products within the United States. It is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian Tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization, resident within the United States. If a business violates the Act, it can face civil penalties or can be prosecuted and fined up to $1,000,000.’”

According to Brown, the Navajo Nation Attorney General has sent Urban Outfitters a cease and desist.

“There is nothing honorable or historically appreciative in selling items such as the Navajo Print Fabric Wrapped Flask, Peace Treaty Feather Necklace, Staring at Stars Skull Native Headdress T-shirt or the Navajo Hipster Panty. These and the dozens of other tacky products you are currently selling referencing Native America make a mockery of our identity and unique cultures … I stand in solidarity with the Navajo Nation and ask that you not only cease and desist selling products falsely using the Navajo name, but that you also stop selling faux Indian apparel that objectifies all tribes.”

As of the morning of October 11, the underwear in question is still available on the Urban Outfitters web site, in addition to 22 other products described by the chain as “Navajo.”

Of course, Urban Outfitters isn't the only one guilty of describing an article of clothing as Native American. Shopbop's selection of "Navajo" merchandise includes pieces by Alice + Olivia, Yigal Azrouël, L.A.M.B., and Pamela Love, while Net-A-Porter offers an Isabel Marant "Ojibwe" (another Native American tribe) cuff and Sandro's Azteque Navajo scarf.

In related news, Urban Outfitters was recently accused of knocking off indie designer Stevie Koerner's necklace designs.

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