They say that fashion trends are cyclical in nature, but hipster chain Urban Outfitters will no longer be selling denim shirts with a logo extremely similar to the iconic symbol that has been used to represent the agricultural workers union United Farm Workers (UFW) for nearly four decades.
The UFW – founded by civil rights activists César Chávez and Dolores Huerta in 1966 – has used the logo of a dark eagle as a symbol of struggle, and was featured on a blue denim shirt that retailed for $64.00 in Urban Outfitter stores nationwide and online.
“It is never our intention to appropriate a culture or infringe on trademarked material. Urban Outfitters takes these matters very seriously, therefore, we have taken action to have the Koto Cross-Stitch Denim Button-Down shirt removed immediately from our stores and our website,” wrote Urban Outfitters in a comment on Voto Latino’s Facebook page. “Urban Outfitters is currently working with the UFW directly to rectify this matter.”
The logo was first trademarked in 1970 and renewed in 2011, reports Voto Latino, and is featured on the Urban Outfitters shirt with one small edit: the Urban Outfitters eagle is facing left, while the eagle logo designed by Chávez and family members Richard and Manuel in 1962 looks to the right.
@votolatino UFW attorneys sent a Cease & Desist letter to Urban Outfitters & they told us they are removing shirt from stores & website
— United Farm Workers (@UFWupdates) August 5, 2013
Action by Urban Outfitters follows a social media awareness campaign that began Monday morning when a photo of the shirt in question was posted on Voto Latino’s Facebook page, inciting comments disparaging the brand of its use of the logo without permission from the UFW.
The post was then publicized by Latino Rebels, bringing the shirt to the attention of the UFW. After the UFW announced on Voto Latino’s Facebook page that their legal department was “preparing action” against Urban Outfitters, the mall chain followed up within 24 hours via Facebook comment that they would remove the shirt from stores.
The controversy follows Urban Outfitters’ sale of a “Juan at WalMart” shirt earlier this year notes Latino Rebels; in 2012, the Navajo Nation sued Urban Outfitters for use of the “Navajo” name on products ranging from a liquor flask to women’s underwear.