Does Urban Outfitters Back Underage Boozing?
A new line of tees with slogans such as "I Vote for Vodka" riles critics.
Hip clothing store Urban Outfitters often pushes the envelope with its provocative t-shirts. But a controversial new line—aimed at teenagers—is causing quite the stir, with slogans like “I Vote for Vodka,” “USA Drinking Team” and “I Drink You’re Cute” spelled out in drunkenly blurry letters. With teen drinking and drug use a perpetual concern, the tees have earned predictable opprobrium in some quarters. "Kids shouldn't be wearing these t-shirts," says Jan Withers, national president of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). "Marketing [alcohol-related products] to teens is not in any way acceptable." Most Urban Outfitters customers are aged between 18 and 24, while their second largest demographic is under-18s. But branded merchandise laws allow clothing with this kind of content to be promoted towards people of any age. Withers believes the messages on the t-shirts will act as a silent form of peer pressure. But she also sees a chance for parents to communicate: "It's a perfect opportunity to talk to kids about the dangers of alcohol use for teens. Part of our mission at MADD is to prevent underage drinking and the research shows that the best way to combat this is to have an ongoing dialogue with our children."