This week in PR nightmares, a Brooklyn-based clothing company came under fire for marketing a loose-fitting dress under the name — inexplicably — “refugee dress.” The wrinkled-cotton dress, which comes in three color options, retails for $119.
“We named the dress in 2007, when we could not see ourselves escaping the reality of a global economy spinning out of control,” Mari Gustafson, the brand’s cofounder, told Mic. “We feel that it is important to keep these issues within public discourse. The American economy has recovered, and through perseverance and luck our company has recovered as well. We are now able to provide jobs for others and give them a sense of hope and stability.”
The name has caused about the amount of backlash one might expect for reducing displaced people to, well, a garment name.
“Look at the model and her pose! What is this!!??” one user demanded.
“Disgusted and appalled,” another wrote.
The brand has renamed the dress “Black Oxford dress” in response to the backlash.
“We could have named the dress anything we wanted but then we wouldn’t be having this discussion,” Gustafson explained, standing by her decision. “We understand that we have unintentionally offended some people with whom we share the same concerns, but in that process we have also been able to amplify our shared message.”
The name probably hasn’t provoked *quite* the kind of discussion they were hoping to have.