Anthropologie Under Fire For Alleged Racist Store Policies

Published on June 10, 2020

Anthropologie, the trendy boutique clothing store owned by Urban Outfitters (Nasdaq: URBN) came under fire this week when a former employee replied to the company’s vague Black Lives Matter Instagram post with remarks about their experience working at the brand. Diet Prada, a fashion blog with nearly two million followers, posted on Instagram this week to point out the dozens of comments responding to the company’s post that reveal it once had a code that employees were allegedly instructed to use whenever Black shoppers were in the store.

“Another day, another boho Karen retailer showing their true shades of beige,” wrote the fashion blog in the caption of the Instagram post. “Last week, @anthropologie posted a Maya Angelou quote in splashy colors as a “call for equality”. With any mention of the #BlackLivesMatter movement absent, Angelou’s words could be interpreted more along the lines of “All lives matter”, lest Anthro offend their primary target audience. In the comment section, oblivious fans clamored for it to be released as a t-shirt or a poster. Also in the comment section— claims of deep discriminatory practices … Comments from multiple employees confirm that stores in California, Chicago, Seattle, NYC and Canada use the code name “Nick” to refer to Black shoppers. Associates report being told to watch Black shoppers, and Black shoppers also commented confirming having been followed while shopping in their stores,” wrote the fashion blogger in the Instagram post that has since gone viral.

Reports that the company has asked its employees to refer to Black shoppers as “Nick” over the store headset systems began popping up in reference to multiple locations throughout the United States, while other former Black shoppers revealed in the comments section of the company’s post that they’ve experienced racial profiling while in the store. Dozens of other users commented on the post to corroborate the claims, retelling their own experiences of either having worked or shopped in an Anthropologie location where they felt racial profiling took place (you can read the comments for yourself right here). A few users even claimed to have similar experiences at Free People, another company within the Urban Outfitters family.

The company was not quick to respond to the allegations, instead opting to post another vague announcement on the company’s Instagram page to reveal that it would be closing all of its stores “in support of our community” to commemorate the #BlackoutTuesday trend on Instagram. When more people began responding to that post, the company put up another vague post on Instagram the next day.

Again, instead of responding to the allegations, the company pledged to make changes to its current practice by committing to diversity and education that would help make Anthropologie stores feel more welcoming to people of color. Again, the move did not garner a positive response as the company had yet to address the allegations directly. Finally, Antrhopologie addressed the controversy directly in an Instagram post on Wednesday night.” Regarding allegations of racial profiling, we have never and will never have a code word based on a customer’s race or ethnicity,” wrote the company in an Instagram post.

Grit Daily has reached out to Anthropologie for comment and will update this article with any comments we recieve.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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