Lands’ End yields to anti-feminist complaints


Some of us may know Lands’ End as a Wisconsin-based retailer made popular by its canvas totes and outdoor clothing. These products are available at Lands’ End, but I won’t be shopping there any time soon. Recently, the company has been caught up in an unexpected controversy.

As part of Lands’ End’s new marketing campaign, “Legend Series,” company CEO Federica Marchionni interviewed feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem. The interview addressed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a constitutional provision that would guarantee women’s and men’s equality if passed. Although Steinem did not discuss her pro-choice views in the interview, many anti-abortion activists and parents of children at Christian schools were outraged that Land’s End published the interview.

“We’re still not part of the constitution of the United States,” Steinem said in the interview. “One reason we need an Equal Rights Amendment is because nowhere in the constitution does the word ‘women’ appear. We need a constitutional principle of female equality. The Equal Rights Amendment would give us a constitution that prohibits gender discrimination.”

In response to the backlash, Lands’ End decided to pull the feature from its spring catalog. In addition to pulling all references to Steinem from its website, Lands’ End removed the option to add an “ERA Coalition” monogram to products and donate to the Equal Rights Coalition’s Fund for Women’s Equality.

Lands’ End also released the following statement on their Facebook page:

“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.”

I had been excited to hear that Marchionni selected Steinem to be featured in the “Legend Series.” Steinem is truly a legend, and her feature would have been an excellent way to raise money for an important cause.

By publicly revoking its support of Steinem and the Equal Rights Amendment, Lands’ End has lost my respect. I am extremely disappointed by the way the company has handled this situation. The feature did not contain sensitive content and therefore should not have been removed; I find it hard to wrap my head around the fact that some people are angered by the belief that women and men should be treated as equals.  

By removing the feature, Lands’ End is sympathizing with anti-feminists. This display of cowardice has certainly left me questioning the company’s values.
Featuring a strong feminist woman is something to be proud of, not embarrassed by.