Could one mistake be fatal? The power of Social media!


More and more retailers are making huge mistakes with some of their pieces. Let me catch you up! Two weeks ago, Zara – the famous fashion chain – was selling a striped shirt featuring a ‘sheriff’ star for children. This shirt caused an explosion of tweets from angry customers. This shirt had awfully many similarities with the shirts of Jewish concentration camp prisoners. Here are some reactions from outraged twitter and facebook users:

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Some even made comments that ‘Hitler has found a job at Zara’ which is actually horrible if we consider everything that happened during the war. Of course, after this boom of reactions on twitter and Facebook, Zara came with an apology saying that this was never the intent and that the shirt was based on sheriff look-a-like shirts:

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As I mentioned, Zara was not the only one. Urban Outfitters – made this mistake a few days ago. They sold a “Vintage Kent State sweatshirt” with blood spatter on it. As some of you might know, at this university a tragic event occurred in 1970. Four students were killed during protests. So you can see why this piece of clothes was not warmly received by customers of Urban Outfitters. As soon as people spotted this sweatshirt online, twitter exploded – again – with the hashtags #kentstate #UrbanOutfitters. Again an apology followed from Urban Outfitters saying this was a ‘vintage shirt’:

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Nowadays, retailers cannot make such mistakes anymore. Their brand image is being damaged by these actions. The power of social media is enormous, just one bad tweet or message can set off a chain of negative reactions. Urban Outfitters directly removed this sweatshirt from their webshop because of these reactions.

Do you think the public is being harsh on such badly made clothes (of course the brands did not make these shirts to link these horrible events) or is it really the fault of the clothing stores? Is it right that Urban Outfitters removed this piece of clothes or should they stay behind their story and try to make the public see that they intended to make a vintage shirt? Let me know what you think!

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4 thoughts on “Could one mistake be fatal? The power of Social media!

  1. Honestly, I do not believe that it is the clothing company’s fault, but they should be more aware of possible sensitivities. I understand that it is not their intention, but proactive behavior would include viewing the products from different perspectives to ensure that nobody could be offended or insulted by selling them.
    I definitely agree with the decision to remove the clothing. If it requires an apology, it should not be kept on the market, as an increasing number of people will be exposed to the offending piece and associate a lack of sensitivity with the brand. Yes, Urban Outfitters intended for it to be vintage, but the coincidental reminder of a tragic incident is not something they should want to advertise any further, especially not to prove a point that they are “right”.

  2. This is a very interesting and touchy subject. I think there are two sides to every story, and in this case I don’t think that the brands created the clothes with the intention of harming or being unthoughtful towards anyone. But it is important that they be more careful with what they put out there, especially big brands like Zara and Urban Outfitters. I think the fact that they are so well known just makes it worse because we wouldn’t expect such massive mistakes from them. I do think it is important that they apologize, because it shows that they are able to deal with and be honest about their mistakes. If they were to just simply say that it was not meant with that and keep selling the product, it would look even worse. The companies should always take customer’s opinions into consideration.

    I do also think that the public is being a bit harsh, especially with the Hitler comments. I think theres a way of saying everything, and they can be a bit more humble when pointing out these mistakes, instead of brining bad publicity to the company. I think it would be better if they simply asked what the point of the clothing was, and if indeed it was supposed to resemble the Holocaust clothing. Same goes for the Kent State sweatshirt, someone could have asked “Does UrbanOutfitters realize what they are promoting with this new sweatshirt?”. Something like that is less harmful to the brand and also doesn’t jump straight to conclusions.

  3. I do not think it is smart of the brands to make these clothes. In my opinion Urban Outfitters has gone too far with this shirt and I think it is good that they removed it from their website. The Zara shirt certainly seems like a holocaust shirt and that is really terrible. No parent should buy these clothes for their children. I really do not know if these brands made these clothes without any intention. Maybe they wanted publicity?

    I do believe that people will continue to buy clothes from these brands despite their mistakes. Urban Outfitters and Zara are big brands and they have many shops around the world. There are always people who don’t know about these mistakes and will continue to buy from this brand. I think for small brands such a mistake could be fatal, but for big brands like Zara or Urban Outfitters not. For instance Zara has enough money to overcome this mistake. I personally am a fan of the Zara and I would still continue to buy their clothes despite this mistake.

  4. I am a big fan of both brands and its really hard to understand how they can make such a mistake. Well from my point of view this must be a mistake of someone who really had no idea what the jewish star stands for (which we might think is obvious but I guess there is a lot of those in the population who have no idea and were not educated in this field). I would excuse this one because its a mistake of not knowing the symbol. On the other hand who comes with an idea of blood splashed shirt and university logo over it? I really dont think anything with blood, military etc. belongs on clothes.
    I think companies of this size should be more aware of what they are selling because this gives me image that not much control and effort is lacking to avoid such a mistakes, because I view those as very fatal.
    Just to add one more example I dont know if you have seen this brand BOY established in London which became very popular in hip scene and they are using the eagle and nazi symbolism on their clothes through all of their clothes line – people actually like it and dont complain against it. Why is that?

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