Urban Outfitters and its sibling store, Anthropologie, have never been paragons of honor and good taste. Someone’s always accusing the company of ripping off an independent designer here, promoting underage drinking, drug abuse, and eating disorders there, and the occasional $400 racist trope candlestick. This week, however, they managed to anger some of the most elite and badass fighting men in the world by slapping a mock Army Rangers scroll on an $84 vest.
That isn’t the spot where a scroll would go on a real Ranger’s uniform: it goes on the right or left sleeve depending on rules that aren’t really the point here. Does something that closely resembles a patch that requires difficult training and dangerous service really belong on an overpriced vest?
Military-style patches on clothes are one thing, but this patch was too close to the real thing and upset many observers and actual Rangers. Guardian of Valor, a blog devoted to exposing military impostors, publicized the shirt’s existence, and Rangers, vets, and concerned citizens wrote to Urban Outfitters and to us. Here’s one sample letter that we received:
This new product is absolutely appalling. The 3rd Ranger Battalion scroll featured on the left breast is a sacred symbol. A symbol that represents an elite group of men that have served, fought and died for this great nation. A group of men that are sons, husbands, and fathers to many Americans.
These sons, husbands, and fathers are the reason your company is allowed to exist, these men have fought and died for our freedoms and rights since the French and Indian war. This scroll is reserved for that group of men to where as recognition of their dedication. These men have not just volunteered to serve in the armed forces they have volunteered three times and earned the right to be apart the most elite light infantry airborne unit in the world. To see this scroll on the chest of a snott nosed prepubescent punk is not only a disgrace to the previous mentioned men, but the many that have have lost their lives wearing that scroll.
This is a [dishonor] to the brotherhood, but also just as much to the families of these men. You all may think its cool and rebellious to rock fatigues and unit patches, but you have crossed the line with this one.
I personally hold you responsible for the well being of any of your customers that get caught wearing this vest on the street by a real Ranger. It is with utmost respect that I ask that you remove this product from your clothing lines, if not for any other reason then to respect the men that earned this scroll.
People who found the vest offensive started an Internet petition and turned to that time-honored instrument of protest: the fake customer review.
The campaign against the shirt began only yesterday, and Urban Outfitters has already pulled the shirt from their site. They sent a statement to Guardian of Valor:
Thank you for your comments and we appreciate you bringing this to our attention. It is never Urban Outfitters’ intention to offend our customers. We respect the military and value our nation’s veterans and those in active duty. Although the use of military insignias is common practice within fashion industry trends, we understand your concerns and will remove the Standard Cloth Patches Blue Vest from our website.
Symbols mean things. The same company that supplied this vest to Urban Outfitters might not be clear on that concept, though. It also supplies vests with Illuminati symbols and an upside-down cross. Maybe someday they’ll learn. You don’t want to run afoul of the Rangers and the Illuminati.
U.S. Army Rangers [Army]