Lands' End had been on a mission to shake its milquetoast reputation, but its latest effort might have just backfired—big-time—as the fashion house, known for its rather bland staples, issued an apology for featuring famed feminist Gloria Steinem in its spring catalog.
Steinem's interview was part of Lands' End's new Legends Series, which was meant to be an "ode to individuals who have made a difference in both their respective industries and the world at large."
The problem? Steinem's stance on abortion.
While the interview didn't touch on the topic—that would have been a gutsy move for any fashion catalog, let alone Lands' End—the brand's customers were miffed that it would consider doing anything with Steinem, given her stance. And this being 2016, said miffed customers took to Lands' End's Facebook page, where they complained, en masse.
Not only that, but given the company's relationship with Catholic schools—it supplies uniforms—some of those institutions said publicly that they would end their relationship with the brand. And therein lies the rub.
On Wednesday, Lands' End issued the following statement:
"We understand that some of our customers were offended by the inclusion of an interview in a recent catalog with Gloria Steinem on her quest for women's equality. We thought it was a good idea and we heard from our customers that, for different reasons, it wasn't. For that, we sincerely apologize. Our goal was to feature individuals with different interests and backgrounds that have made a difference for our new Legends Series, not to take any political or religious stance."
Why feature Steinem in the first place? Well, it makes sense in the context of the brand's latest mission. Since hiring the former North American president of Dolce & Gabbana, Federica Marchionni, last February, Lands' End had been slowly shifting its attention to cater to a "younger, cooler crowd" while still "keeping loyal suburban parents happy."
But those parents weren't happy with Steinem, and now Lands' End has backpedaled. It has scrubbed the interview from its online catalog and even retracted the option on its website to donate to the ERA Coalition's Fund for Women's Equality.
So now, the brand is a laughingstock to pro-life and pro-choice consumers. Couldn't have played this one much worse, could you?