Oh, Urban Outfitters, must we count the ways in which you’ve bumbled into offending large groups of people through your products? There was the army vest, prescription pill bottles as shot glasses, the shirt that made people think of the Holocaust and many others. We only trot out these examples as we wonder who let Urban Outfitters muck things up yet again by selling “Ganesh” socks featuring the Hindu deity of the same name.
It’s not just that the company slapped a figure sacred to a religious group on a pair of cheaply priced socks, points out Jezebel: The human foot is considered the lowest and most impure part of the body in the Hindu culture. So putting a deity between your impure foot and your shoe is just… well it’s not cool with many in the Hindu community.
UO found itself firmly in the crosshairs of that culture when Rajan Zed, the president of the Universal Hindu Society, wrote on his website to decry the socks, saying: “Lord Ganesh was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be wrapped around one’s foot. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for commercial or other agenda was not okay, as it hurt the devotees.”
Since the furor, Urban has pulled the socks and done its usual “Oops, sorry, we didn’t mean to offend anyone dance,” telling Zed in a statement:
“We sincerely apologize if we offended the Hindu community and our customers. We appreciate Rajan Zed and the Universal Society of Hinduism for bringing this matter to our attention and for helping us understand the cultural and religious sensitivities this product carries. We will remove the Ganesh Socks immediately from our website and stores.”
Again — this shocks no one that it happened, but yet this kind of stuff keeps happening. It’s enough to make one wonder if Urban Outfitters has a “go with it and only pull if someone complains” policy in place.