Urban Outfitters 

It seems like there is an Urban Outfitters scandal on a yearly basis, and already 2016 has been no exception.

After offending customers with its references to depression, the company recently withdrew the Peachy Head shampoo for ‘suicidal hair’. 

With similar hullaballoo surrounding the bloodstained sweatshirt and ‘Eat Less’ t-shirt, it seems this is one brand that just can’t learn from its mistakes. Funny that.

Forever 21

Maybe it’s a case of keeping up with the hipsters, but American brand Forever 21 recently jumped on the controversial slogan bandwagon.

A men’s t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase “Don’t Say Maybe If You Want to Say No” was unsurprisingly met with outrage due to its rape-justifying undertones. 

After a slew of customer complaints the shirt has subsequently been pulled from the website, but with the recent news that Forever 21 is scaling back on its UK stores, the brand has certainly not had the best start to the year.


Most famously criticised for issues relating to cheap labour, Primark has also stirred up controversy over the kind of kids clothing it makes. 

Fed up with seeing ‘Future WAG’ t-shirts and high heels for eight-year-olds, online parenting network Mumsnet launched the ‘Let Girls Be Girls’ campaign.

As a result, the British Retailers Consortium reviewed its best practice guidelines, and high street retailers like Boden and Asda signed up to show support.

Dolce & Gabbana

The online launch of D&G’s summer 2016 collection has been eagerly anticipated. However, customers were left shocked (and more than a little bemused) by the name of one item in particular.

A leather sandal – complete with pom poms and other colourful embellishments – was absurdly labelled the “Slave Shoe”. 

Despite quickly changing the name to “Decorative Flat Sandal”, the brand has remained entirely tight-lipped over its latest embarrassment.

Combined with the controversial comments about same-sex families, this provides even more ammunition for Elton John’s #BoycottDolceGabbana hashtag. 


Known for its designer-inspired clothing, Spanish retailer Zara took things a step too far in 2014.

Despite being marketed as a ‘Sheriff-inspired’ outfit – with its horizontal stripes and yellow star – one children’s top in particular looked a little too reminiscent of the garments worn by Jews during the Holocaust. 

The company rapidly removed the product and apologised, however it’s hard not to wonder at what point the penny dropped.