Did Forever 21 Just Pull Its Ayn Rand Shirt?

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 10 2013 8:30 PM

Did Forever 21 Just Pull Its Ayn Rand Shirt?

78663517
Shoppers walk in downtown San Francisco as they take advantage of the post-Christmas sales.

Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images

Mixing politics with commerce is usually a dicey proposition for the pretty apparent reason that if half of America votes one way and the other half the other way, you’re cutting your potential customer pool in half if you pick a side. But that hasn’t stopped companies, or their leaders, from weighing in in the past.

The clothing chain Forever 21, however, has, perhaps inadvertently, taken it one step further with the “Unstoppable Muscle Tee” emblazoned with a quote from author and philosopher Ayn Rand. Here’s the Rand quote in question: “'The question isn’t who is going to let me, it’s who is going to stop me" and a picture of the shirt itself.

Advertisement

While the shirt's sentiment could just as easily be a Michael Jordan quote in a Nike commercial a decade ago, because Rand’s political theorizing is part of the conservative ideological canon, it makes the quote a potentially far more divisive one. Even still, this isn’t the first time an apparel company has peddled a Rand quote, Lululemon also sold a Rand inspired “Who is John Galt?” bag.

But, will the Forever 21 clientele recognize, much less mind, the quote's backstory? Seems unlikely. As for the company itself, what makes the whole thing a bit awkward is that Rand was a staunch atheist and Forever 21 is most definitely not. “John 3:16” is printed on the bottom of the store’s shopping bags after all.

1381450364

So was the quote an oversight? Or will it sell like gangbusters? Maybe money, and fashion, trumps religion and politics these days. But, then again, maybe not? If you were worried about beating the crowd and snapping up one of the tees online, you're apparently too late.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The One National Holiday Republicans Hope You Forget

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.

Doublex

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

Politico Wonders Why Gabby Giffords Is So “Ruthless” on Gun Control

Behold
Sept. 23 2014 4:45 PM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Foreigners
Sept. 23 2014 6:40 PM Coalition of the Presentable Don’t believe the official version. Meet America’s real allies in the fight against ISIS.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
  Life
Outward
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 8:38 PM “No One in This World” Is One of Kutiman’s Best, Most Impressive Songs
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 23 2014 11:37 PM How to Stop Ebola Could survivors safely care for the infected?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 23 2014 7:27 PM You’re Fired, Roger Goodell If the commissioner gets the ax, the NFL would still need a better justice system. What would that look like?