It seems everyone is boycott crazy these days and preppy all-American brand Lands’ End is the latest to fall victim to haters. Last year the company took on as CEO, Federica Marchionni, previously at fashion powerhouse Dolce & Gabbana. In what many would consider a brilliant move, she featured the legendary feminist Gloria Steinem in their latest catalogue and online. The feature included a photo shoot of Steinem wearing the brand’s clothes alongside an interview Marchionni personally conducted as part of their new “Legends Series,” which they described as “our ode to individuals who have made a difference in both their respective industries and the world at large.”
The face of the women’s liberation movement and founder of Ms. Magazine talked about the importance of women’s equality, among other contemporary topics. As part of the feature, Lands’ End offered a special tote bag with a $3.00 donation towards the ERA Coalition Fund For Women’s Equality for every tote bag sold. The ERA Coalition describes themselves as “working to raise awareness on gaps in the law that leave women without legal recourse from sex discrimination, and developing educational resources on the need for a constitutional provision to protect and promote equal rights for women.” Seems like a brilliant move to us but the brand was attacked by anti-abortion activists, who went on to social media to loudly protest against featuring the pro-choice feminist icon and accusing the brand of being “anti-child”.
Steinem had talked about the importance of the right to choose in her latest book, My Life On The Road, and her own personal experiences with it. Although her feature with Lands’ End did not touch on the topic, she did talk about her support of the Equal Rights Amendment. “It’s a statement of principle,” Steinem stated. “It just says that men and women have equal rights, and that equality under the law shall not be denied. From 1972 to 1982, we tried to get the Equal Rights Amendment into the Constitution, but we fell short by three states of getting it ratified. We’re still not part of the Constitution of the United States. One reason we need an Equal Rights Amendment is because nowhere in the Constitution does the word ‘women’ appear. We need a constitutional principle of female equality.”
— Conservative Realtor (@NCCoastalRltr) February 25, 2016
Pro-lifers were up in arms over her feature and their support of the ERA Coalition, and went on a rampage boycotting the brand on social media, demanded refunds and one Catholic school even cancelled a uniform order which led to corporate panic as the brand relies heavily on uniform sales. In an article denouncing Lands’ End, pro-life publication News Life insisted new versions of the amendment could expand abortion. “Should the ERA be adopted, it would invalidate the federal Hyde Amendment and all state restrictions prohibiting tax-funded abortions. Likewise, it would nullify any federal or state restrictions even on partial-birth abortions or third-trimester abortions.” The brands social media pages were besieged with comments to boycott the brand, such as, “You’ve lost my business (and the business of my large family) until Gloria is no longer glorified on your website and you stop donating to her fund” and “This family will not buy one single thing from Lands End ever again unless this drive highlighted by Gloria Steinem is fully retracted.”
Sadly Lands’ End caved in to the boycott pressure and apologized for featuring Steinem, quickly removing all trace of her name and the article from all digital content including the $3.00 donation offer. Lands’ End posted an apology on their Facebook page and released a statement on Wednesday, “We understand that some of our customers were offended by the inclusion of an interview in a recent catalog with Gloria Steinem on her quest for women’s equality. We thought it was a good idea and we heard from our customers that, for different reasons, it wasn’t. For that, we sincerely apologize. Our goal was to feature individuals with different interests and backgrounds that have made a difference for our new Legends Series, not to take any political or religious stance.”
Not surprisingly it has backfired, as what the company didn’t count on are the legions of men and women who do consider Steinem a legend and support her stance for women’s equality. Double boycott madness ensued with fans of Steinem and women’s rights in general hitting social media voicing their disgust with Lands’ End for apologizing.
— Julie A. Childs (@julieachilds) February 27, 2016
— Urvashi Vaid (@urvashivaid) February 27, 2016
It’s a sad day when a brand feels they need to apologize for supporting equality and women’s rights. Some were so up in arms with Lands End they made a petition, “Lands’ End: Gloria Steinem is an Icon, and Your Apology Offends me” which you can sign if you feel the same.
By caving into corporate pressure and apologizing, Lands’ End is now reaping hate on both sides. They highly under-estimated the amount of vocal women who actually think women’s right matter and agree – Gloria Steinem is a legend, and equal rights should be supported.
To support the ERA, you can also sign Patricia Arquette’s Change.org petition, “Ratify The Equal Right Ammendment.” Steinem is additionally featured in the “Equal Means Equal” movie trailer below.
Photo top: courtesy The Washington Post