Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Lands' End Receives Backlash from Customers after Pointed Apology

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Lands' End Receives Backlash from Customers after Pointed Apology

Article excerpt

Lands' End, best known as a quiet purveyor of mom-friendly tote bags and tunics, has found itself at the center of a cultural firestorm. In one of the retailer's recent catalogues, it included an interview with womens' rights activist Gloria Steinem. Now, the company is apologizing for the piece and has removed it from its website after some customers apparently complained that Steinem should not have been featured because of her support of abortion rights.

In a statement, the company said: "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.

But that attempt to calm customers was greeted with a swift backlash. Facebook comments poured in to the Lands' End Web page Friday, with some users saying that the retailer made the wrong call by distancing itself from the interview.

"What a terrible message to send to all the women and girls who wear your clothes, one Facebook commenter wrote. "I'm sorry you see equal rights for women as a divisive issue. I see it as a human issue.

Others pledged that they would take their dollars elsewhere: "I don't intend to teach my children that anyone should do business with a company that is ashamed to even talk about feminism, another Facebook user wrote. "You see equal rights as a divisive issue? Thanks for letting me know not to give you my money.

The Steinem interview, conducted by Lands' End chief executive Federica Marchionni, did not directly discuss abortion; topics included the challenges that women face in the workplace and the proposed Equal Rights Amendment. The feature also told shoppers that if they opted to select a certain logo for embroidery on, say, a tote bag or polo shirt, Lands' End would donate 50 percent of the fee to the ERA Coalition's Fund for Women's Equality. …

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