Well it looks like bland as heck retail catalog Lands’ End — known for such products as khakis and flannels for preppy people with zero interest in what’s chic — has done a nice job of alienating pretty much anyone with an opinion. First, they made the interesting and slightly edgy choice to feature feminist icon Gloria Steinem (Steinem has also appeared in Kate Spade ads, we note) in their catalog to kick off a series honoring real life women “legends.” It was a gambit that appeared to work, given that people were actually talking about Lands’ End!
But then they came under fire from anti-abortion folks who were enraged that known abortion advocate Steinem would be associated with their trusted purveyor of swimwear, outerwear and polo shirts denuded of all trendiness. How dare they? went the cry. A “pro-life” website sent waves of angry anti-choicers to complain, and Lands’ End, which does a lucrative business with parochial school uniforms, hastily retreated.
The company pulled Steinem’s photo and issued a mealy-mouthed apology, saying. “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.”
Unfortunately, they now find themselves under fire from the other side of the divide, as pro-choicers, feminists, and people in favor of companies having an actual spine are descending on their Facebook page and emailing corporate headquarters. They’ve even gotten a taste of Facebook’s new “varied reactions,” with hundreds of “angry” and “sad” responses instead of “likes.” It’s only a matter of time before second-wave feminists start sending their practical, flattering tunics back to the store en masse.
This fracas is an example of how divided the public at large is; feminist in-fighting over whether Steinem is quite radical enough on certain issues, shrinks in comparison to the gulf between the two sides of the great Lands’ End battle of February, 2016.