steinem

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. For their Spring collection, Lands' End broke new ground by featuring an interview with notable feminist activist Gloria Steinem. This was part of the brand’s “Legend Series,” a new segment to Lands' End’s catalog that features women who are active in causes for women. This might seem innocuous, but keep this in mind: The brand manufactures uniforms used exclusively by grade schools in addition to their nautical-inspired retail.

But when they ran the interview with Gloria Steinem, Lands' End didn't expect the backlash from pro-life customers, who flooded the clothing company’s Facebook page with enraged comments.

“Really, really disappointed that I will no longer be buying from you. Gloria Steinem? What?? There are plenty of other strong women who have made a difference without doing so in such a disgusting fashion.”

“I presume that your executive team reviewed and considered the reaction that you could expect to receive by choosing to honor a radical leftist and anti-life political figure such as Gloria Steinem, so comments like mine - that my family will no longer purchase Lands' End products - should come as no surprise.“

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“I was sorry to learn about Land's End corporate support for Gloria Steinem and her pro-abortion causes. I guess I'll have to shop elsewhere. No problem.”

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In addition to tenacious individual consumer complaints, Catholic schools around the country avowed to quit backing Lands' End as their uniform supplier of choice. As a “take-backsie” measure, Lands' End decided to pull the Steinem interview from their Spring catalog and issued this overly-sympathetic apology to pro-life consumers, with a stance that the brand prefers to remain neutral on the topic:

“Some customers were troubled and concerned that we featured an interview with Gloria Steinem in a recent catalog. Lands’ End is committed to providing our loyal customers and their families with stylish, affordable, well-made clothing. We greatly respect and appreciate the passion people have for our brand. It was never our intention to raise a divisive political or religious issue, so when some of our customers saw the recent promotion that way, we heard them. We sincerely apologize for any offense.”

Although the article featuring Steinem did not mention abortion, the concern from consumers seemed to be with what Steinem “stands for” and not what she said in the interview explicitly. The Facebook comment frenzy that followed the rebuttal makes claim that tailoring a segment to women activists is an intention to raise political or religious issue, which is more often than not, divisive in opinion. The highest liked comment reached upwards of 2,500 likes:

“What a terrible message to send to all the women and girls who wear your clothes. I'm sorry you see equal rights for women as a divisive issue. I see it as a human issue.”

“To pull an ad with an icon like Gloria Steinem? Why? Simply put, you are cowards. I will NEVER shop at Land's End again.”

“To pull that add, and then to have this "explanation." You not only lost me as a customer, but every single person I know. Shame on you. The only passion I have now is to never buy anything with your brand.”

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