Business | Law | National

Colorlines: Corporations pimping other cultures for profits

"It doesn’t take more than the ubiquitous Che Guevara t-shirt to know that corporate America loves to pimp other people’s culture for profits.

So it wasn’t all that surprising when Urban Outfitters released 21 products as part of its new “Navajo” fashion line. The new garments included the “Navajo Flask” and the “Navajo Hipster Panty.”

But the Navajo Nation, which owns the trademark to the name “Navajo,” didn’t make it easy for the company to sell its products. And in the complicated legal battle that’s ensued, the familiar theme of how and if companies should be able to profit off of the cultural symbols of communities of color has once again taken center stage.

Recently, the Navajo Nation sent Urban Outfitters a cease-and-desist letter in an effort to stop the company from using the trademarked name. “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,” the tribe’s attorney Brian Lewis told the Washington Post last week."

Get the Story:
Urban Outfitters’ ‘Indian Chic’ Prompts Sadly Familiar Outrage (Colorlines 10/21)

Related Stories:
Navajo Nation hails action by Urban Outfitters on products (10/20)
ICT: Urban Outfitters erases 'Navajo' name from products (10/19)
Sasha Houston Brown: Corporations rip off tribal property (10/18)
Navajo Nation sent trademark letter to Urban Outfitters in June (10/17)
Opinion: Urban Outfitters is obsessed with 'Navajo' fashions (10/11)
Living: Asking Navajos about the neo-Navajo trend in fashion (9/26)

Join the Conversation