Urban Outfitters Navajo Panties Stir Controversy

Another day, another tale of Urban Outfitters ripping off and or offending a group with their hip, indie-style offerings.

In the past, the chain has come under fire for selling mass-market versions of popular Etsy pieces without attribution. Urban Outfitters has denied drawing “inspiration” from small crafters, but it seems every so often a comparison is made between an Etsy bestseller and an Urban Outfitters hot, new item.

This time, Urban Outfitters has managed to rile up the Navajo Nation with what the group says is a flagrant violation of trademark in their line of “Navajo” clothing and accessories. Among the offensive pieces are a pair of panties and a patterned liquor flask- the full line of Urban Outfitters Navajo items are viewable here on the Urban Outfitters website. The Navajo Nation has sent cease and desist letters to the hipster mall store’s CEO, although those letters have yet to be acknowledged by the company.

A lawyer for the Navajo nation said:

“When products that have absolutely no connection to the Navajo Nation, its entities, its people, and their products are marketed and retailed under the guise that they are Navajo in origin, the Navajo Nation does not regard this as benign or trivial. It takes appropriate action to maintain distinctiveness and clarity of valid name association in the market and society.”

Fermin Navar has a licensing agreement with the Navajo Nation in which the group is fairly compensated for the use of their name and imagery. Navar explains:

“The design doesn’t matter; it’s the use of the name Navajo. They can say it looks like this, but if it has the name Navajo — it’s being branded and sold as Navajo — it’s a violation.”

Do you find the Urban Outfitters Navajo line exploitative? Should the company be allowed to continue selling the Urban Outfitters Navajo items?

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