Navajo Nation, Urban Outfitters Settle Lawsuit Over Clothing Designs

Image courtesy of JeepersMedia

Urban Outfitters is no stranger to accusations that it’s ripped off designs belonging to others, or offended an entire culture with its clothing, but it can now put one more of those claims behind it after settling a lawsuit brought by the Navajo Nation in 2012.

The settlement, the terms of which won’t be disclosed, resolves all claims related to the case, according to a press release from the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President (via the Navajo Post).

The parties involved said they’ve entered into a supply and license agreement and will collaborate on creating authentic Native American jewelry in the future. The two sides agreed to settle on Sept. 29, and a judge signed the agreement this week.

This case won’t come back to life along the line, either, as the Navajo Nation and URBN — parent company of Urban Outfitters — agreed to settle with prejudice. Each will pay for their own expenses and attorney fees.

“We are a proud nation with talented artisans, scientists, lawyers and professionals who together represent the Navajo Nation,” said Russell Begaye, President of the Navajo Nation. “We believe in protecting our Nation, our artisans, designs, prayers and way of life. We applaud URBN for acknowledging the validity of the Navajo Nation trademark and are glad we have settled this matter.”

Going forward, Begaye adds that they expect any company that’s considering using the Navajo name, designs, or motifs will ask for permission.

“The Navajo Nation is proud of its strong history and welcomes working in collaboration with URBN and other retailers to highlight our unique culture,” he said.

URBN also said it’s pleased to have come to an agreement.

“We take the rights of artists and designers seriously, both in protecting our own and in respecting the rights of others,” said Azeez Hayne, General Counsel, URBN. “As a company URBN has long been inspired by the style of Navajo and other American Indian artists and looks forward to the opportunity to work with them on future collaborations.”

The Navajo have plenty of company when it comes to decrying Urban Outfitters’ design choices: there was the tapestry that some said resembled a concentration camp uniform; the time the retailer apologized for selling a blood-spattered Kent State sweatshirt; the socks it decided to stop selling because they featured a Hindu deity; and the shirt the company pulled because it reminded people of the Holocaust. Not to mention the overpriced candlesticks sold by sibling company Anthropologie that featured racist vintage items.