Old Navy, an American clothing and accessories retailer, sparked outline outrage following the introduction of their new t-shirts for toddlers that discourages the very people that design their clothing. The t-shirt features the phrase, “Young Aspiring Artist,” with the last word, Artist, crossed out and titles like “Astronaut” and “President” written underneath. The phrase essentially is encouraging toddlers to shoot for the stars – no pun intended – in their careers. However, once the news hit the Internet, the online community took the phrase as a stab to the artist community. As a result, the Gap’s spin-off brand discontinued the shirts.
Old Navy spokesperson, Debbie Felix, said they would “never intentionally offend anyone. Our toddler tees come in a variety of designs that feature ballerinas, unicorns, trucks and dinosaurs and include phases like, ‘Free Spirit.’ They are meant to appeal to a wide range of aspirations,” she said. “As a result of customer feedback, we have decided to discontinue the design and will work to remove the items from our stores.”
In a time where we are experiencing more scrutiny in the narrowing scope of politically correctness, how we construct our statements is beginning to hold more weight in long-term sustainability for companies. This toddler tee with the featured phrases created such uproar, that critics were hitting Old Navy back with parody t-shirts that substituted “artist” with “old navy exec.”
Old Navy’s t-shirt stunt adds to the growing list of retailers that have had to remove items from shelves that resulted in consumer protests. This includes items like the Caitlyn Jenner Halloween customer and Bloomingdale’s holiday ads that shockingly insinuates that it is OK to date rape your friends. Not cool, Bloomingdales, not cool.Here are some clever takes on the subversive t-shirts as designers take a stand against Old Navy’s denigrating of artists: