One of this year's hottest trends in both mens and womens clothing has been the so-called "Navajo" print, a southwestern style pattern that is all the rage amongst the hipster set and can be found everywhere from socks and dresses to jeans and jackets from big name streetwear brands like Obey. Understandably, the actual Navajo people (who still exist despite the best efforts of the ancestors of many of the same young beardos currently smoking their credit cards to cop some pseudo-Navajo style) aren't exactly thrilled that the name of their tribe has been co-opted to a passing fad in the ever-fickle apparel industry. In fact, lawyers for the Navajo nation earlier this year served retailer Urban Outfitters with a cease and desist letter, to go along with the open letter posted a few weeks ago by a Minneapolis woman which read, in part:
As a Native American woman, I am deeply distressed by your company's mass marketed collection of distasteful and racially demeaning apparel and décor. I take personal offense to the blatant racism and perverted cultural appropriation your store features this season as "fashion." All too often industries, sports teams and ignorant individuals legitimize racism under the guise of cultural "appreciation"
As it turns, out, using Navajo to brand products might not just be distasteful but also illegal, as" Navajo" as it pertains to both clothing and online retail is trademarked by the Navajo nation. And though for their part, Urban Outfitters claimed they had "no plans to modify or discontinue" any of their Navajo products, a story on Jezebel today points out that Urban Outfitters has quietly scrubbed the word Navajo from all of their product:
A little poking around on Urban Outfitters' site shows that the products aren't really gone. The company simply changed their names. A search on "Navajo Flask" turns up no results. But a search on "Flask"? Oh, there you are! Meet the "Printed Fabric Wrapped Flask," everybody.
Similarly, the "Navajo Hipster Panty" has now transformed into the "Printed Hipster Panty." The "Navajo Nations Crew Pullover" is now the "OBEY Printed Crew Pullover." The "Title Unknown Techno Navajo Quilt Oversized Crop Tee" is now the "Title Unknown Techno Quilt Oversized Crop Tee." What were listed as "Navajo Feather Earrings" are now just "Feather Earrings." And so on, and so forth.
And while the loss of the Navajo Hipster Panty is surely a blow to the greater fashion world, in the end, I'm sure by this time next year Navajo print will be lining the racks at Ross and we'll all be moved on to the next mildly offensive, derivative recycled style trend. Oh boy!