*Warning – my intention was to make this less of a rant and more of a thoughtful piece about something interesting. I don’t know that I succeeded.*
So I was sitting at my new job at BuildASign.com today, having a lovely chat with my dear friend Sarah, when the topic of the dress I had just ordered from Anthropologie came up. Sarah said, “Liz, do you know who owns Anthropologie?” and being my seemingly well-informed self, I said, “Um yeah, Urban Outfitters.” Sarah informed that though this was indeed correct, this was not the specific point she was trying to make. She told me to look up the owner of Urban Outfitters online. And here is what I found.
The president and co-founder of Urban Outfitters is an interesting man by the name of Richard Hayne. He and his (now ex) wife, Judy, started the “Free People’s Store”, as it was called in the 70’s, and they were very anti-business, as they believed that big business was the root of the Vietnam War (which they were also very against). Their marriage didn’t last long, and Judy went off to do her thang (and started the very successful White Dog Cafe – check it out). As time progressed, and the war ended, it seems Dick Hayne sort of gave up his political ideas; and he definitely siphoned them out of the growing Urban Outfitters.
So none of this is really all that shocking – there are conservative people behind liberal companies and products all over the place, and people’s views can change over time and that’s that. However, Hayne’s views go slightly beyond being “conservative”. The man, at one point, gave over $13,000 dollars to Rick Santorum. (Wikipedia is the shiz.) I’d never heard of him, but everything that I have read about him since makes me want to gouge his eyes out with spoons. (Sorry if that’s a little graphic, but it’s a very primal urge I have.) I am so very for many things he is so very against, and vice versa. I think I would punch the man if I ever met him. So there’s that.
Plus, I don’t know how many of you have ever actually walked into an Urban Outfitters store, but it is trés hip. When shopping there, I have frequently thought to myself, “I am entirely too square to pull that off.” They also just give off a friggin’ liberal vibe. That’s really all there is to it – during the presidential race, there were Obama t-shirts everywhere. So you spend 28 bucks on an Obama t-shirt because it’s the cool thing to do, and then your money goes to the Republican Party. (OK, that’s not entirely true – but this article sure thinks so, judging by the hilarious title.)
So this brings up some questions. When I started researching this whole thing, I was completely irrational and got terribly depressed and threatened to take the dress back and never shop there again and boycott all clothing stores and protest in the streets and become a vegan (you can ask Sarah – she was there), but I got over it. But it made me think – was it worth really never going back to those stores? Anthropologie is a very recent discovery – we’ve only been dating for a short while and I don’t want to lose her forever. Should it bother me that these hippie/hipster/liberal/kitschy stores are being backed by a man who thinks that being gay is wrong? Does it really matter to the consumer what the president of the company thinks about homosexuality? (Even as I type that, though, I know it does to me.) But he’s free to do whatever he wants with his money, just as we all are (and think what every he wants with his very tiny, close-minded brain), right? But I don’t like it. I just can’t decide how much I don’t like it.
I know this might be old news to some, but it was the first I had ever heard about Dick Hayne. My dress from Anthropologie is still sitting in the office at my apartment right now, just waiting to be part of my political shopping dilemma. Will it survive my liberal scrutiny? Stay tuned.
(On a completely different but equally important note, Anne Marie and I discovered Frutii Frogurt tonight. Possibly the best frozen yogurt I’ve had in Austin.)