In a market where shock value sells, companies like Urban Outfitters, Brandy Melville, Zara, and Forever 21 are dominating. The messages these organizations invest in glorify cultural atrocities and maintain unrealistic body images. From “one size fits most” policies to t-shirts celebrating depression, these brands (among many others) definitely need to be called out.

Consider what brands you buy from and what kind of market you perpetuate. Here is just a taste of what is behind these beloved brands:

Urban Outfitters

“Tragedy at Kent State” or tragedy at Urban Outfitters?

The infamous “Kent State” hoodie has forever branded Urban Outfitters. The company sold a “vintage” Kent State sweatshirt in 2014 that had faux-bloodstains and sold for a whopping $129.

The sweatshirt alluded to the Kent State massacre of the 1970s, where four unarmed students were shot and killed by the Ohio National Guard during a Vietnam War Protest. This product is insensitive to say the least and has deterred many consumers from further purchasing Urban Outfitters products (including myself).

Graphic t-shits that glorify depression, drinking, and an unrealistic body image are also among Urban’s top controversies.

The “Obama/Black” t-shirt color option further demonstrates Urban’s incompetence. This shirt was presented in two color combinations: “White/Charcoal” and “Obama/Black.” Urban Outfitters quickly attempted to cover the mistake and of course apologized, explaining that they had initially developed a color that was “Obama Blue.”

If Urban Outfitters is not outright racist, they are indeed careless.

Although these controversies account for a small portion of Urban Outfitters’ comprehensive catalog of merchandise, I choose not to consume Urban products. The multiple accounts of the company’s carelessness and continual insensitivity have ruined the brand for me.

Brandy Melville

Brandy was popularized through social media platforms such as Tumblr and Instagram, gaining 3.4 million Instagram followers just in the United States. Although one of the best-selling teen and young adult brands, Brandy Melville chooses to sell to only one type of body demographic: thin (very thin!).

The brand endorses a “one-size-fits-most” policy and is not ashamed of it. Shopping at Brandy Melville is a surreal experience. As customers sort through the racks of clothing, labels read “Small” or “One Size,” which equates to a small or a small/medium. Even most of Brandy Melville’s jeans are “one size” and cater to a 24” or 25” waist.

The models Brandy selects for their website, Instagram page, and Tumblr site are all very skinny girls. We all love Alexis Ren, but her 23” waist advertised in tandem with a “one size fits most” policy gives consumers a nasty vibe of exclusivity. These sweatpants only fit small/medium sizes.

Brandy Melville’s “cool girl clothes” are extremely exclusionary and many shoppers cannot buy their products because of sizing. Below are just a few comments of outrage about the company:


Following in Urban Outfitters’ footsteps, Zara’s cultural blunders are among the worst in the fashion industry.

In 2014, Zara was hammered over its release of a children’s pajama top that closely resembled a concentration camp uniform.

However, this was not the first time Zara distressed the Jewish community. The company’s infamous handbag with green swastikas was released in 2007.

Forever 21

Forever 21 is not a stranger to controversy. This trendy brand crossed the line with their latest graphic t-shirt for men:

"DON'T SAY MAYBE IF YOU WANT TO SAY NO." What a gentleman!

This men’s product seemingly makes an excuse for having a non-consensual act.

Urban Outfitters, Brandy Melville, Zara, and Forever 21 are among many ethically controversial companies.

Do not contribute to fashion lines that perpetuate drastically insensitive and exclusionary principles; do not be blind to the brands you buy.