Clothing Retailer Lands’ End Caves to Anti-Abortion Bullies

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 10.40.16 AMOn Wednesday, Wisconsin-based clothing retailer Lands’ End issued an apology for featuring a profile of Ms. cofounder Gloria Steinem in its Legend Series, after anti-abortion customers flooded the company’s Facebook page with angry comments and threats of a widespread boycott.

Appearing as an insert in its print catalogue and referenced heavily on the company’s website and social media pages, the series, including the Q&A with Steinem (conducted by Lands’ End CEO Federica Marchionni), was published as an “ode to individuals who have made a difference in both their respective industries and the world at large.” Given Steinem’s immeasurable contribution to women’s rights, the company could hardly have chosen a more appropriate person to honor and thank for “paving the way for the many who follow.”

But after several hundred comments attacking Steinem’s lifelong pro-abortion-rights stance landed on the company’s Facebook page, Lands’ End chose to remove all references to Steinem on its website and issue a public apology to customers.

Said the retailer in a 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.

Though Steinem does not shy away from supporting abortion rights publicly, such views are not included in this particular interview. In fact, at the heart of Lands’ End’s sit-down is the renewed push for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a constitutional provision that would guarantee women’s and men’s equality if passed.

“We’re still not part of the constitution of the United States,” said Steinem 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.”

For years, feminists across the country pushed to enshrine the ERA in the U.S. Constitution, but the effort stalled in 1982 when only 35 of the 38 necessary states had ratified the amendment. The call for ratification has been renewed in recent years.

The interview directed readers to the official ERA Coalition website and included an offer from Lands’ End to monogram the ERA logo on clothing items, such as its no-iron shirt. Lands’ End promised a donation of 50 percent of the fee for every monogram ordered to the Fund for Gender Equality, a program of U.N. Women that endeavors to empower women politically and economically worldwide, but it appears the company has pulled its monogram offer since the controversy over Steinem erupted.

Yesterday, Lands’ End posted on its Facebook page,

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.

Click here to sign our petition telling Lands’ End to retract its apology and reinstate Steinem’s interview!

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Photo via Lands’ End

Lindsay_Kitty_HS1Kitty Lindsay is a Ms. blogger and works at the Feminist Majority Foundation. Follow her on Twitter!



    1. Women who feel this way need to be educated & rethink position,…abortion a small issue inside something much larger. it’s not about current medical styles of terminating a pregnancy. These things change w time & technology. The issue is to have the choice and to own the rights to your own body without it being legislated by men or the current wind of ideology. And for this to be ironclad. It should be an absolute Inailable right that does not change. Presently we are second class citizens in a rape culture. Preventing abortion from those in need, makes a case for some women who just don’t get it & end up ruining it for everyone with their narrow minds & concept of what is and is not holy. A woman forced to have or raising a child from incest or rape is more “unholy”than an abortion.

      When women & men are equal citizens, & war & massacres outlawed, let’s talk about sacred & holiness of life and where the lines are with science.

      • Sarah O'Brien says:

        Whatever your position is, pro-choice or pro-life, abortion is never a ‘small issue’. Of course their decision to remove Gloria was ridiculous but nobody should minimize abortion IMO.

      • Kaylyn Cole says:

        Fanatics are Terrorists… with 2 year old mindsets… you must teach them they can not rule other people’s lives frequently and often.

      • Raychel, this is the best comment I have read about anti-abortionist and womens rights. Well said, thank you,

      • marianne says:

        The problem is medically and scientifically thinking, that tissue is not part of the woman’s body, but genetically its very own human being. Please don’t ignore this fact. Look to science to determine this. Do not use the propaganda about this tissue being part of the woman’s body so her right to abort its development. One only needs to watch the scientific development of this tissue to see that in actuality it is its own body, not the woman’s body. We know by looking at our history the shame on our nation over treating other humans as less than equal to us because of the way they look or behave. I am thinking slavery. The propaganda of the time was they were not human beings- just look at them. Thus many in our nation were convinced that it was somehow okay to treat them less than human. We do the same thing with this tissue today whether it is for our convenience like slavery or to advance a political agenda. Please, I implore you to look very closely into the development of a fetus. Then take an honest look at how you are given liberties and protection because of your human being status. When in the stages of this development would you say the fetus is human and deserves the liberties and protections you enjoy? Please put aside anger and really look and use science to help you understand the humanness of this tissue, you fight so adamantly to discard. Please look to the development of the tissue. It’s humanness, like yours, cannot be denied thanks to science.

    2. Holly smith says:

      I’ll Never Shop With You again. Apologizing was a mistake.

    3. Elena Smith says:

      Anti-abortionists are behaving in a fundamentally UNDEMOCRATIC manner and do not deserve the rights and freedoms we have fought hard to win.

      Freedom of speech should not be bought with a $$ from Lands’ End.

      This decision of theirs will end of costing them.

    4. Pennell Somsen says:

      I have been purchasing Land´s End products for years. Their products have been moderately priced and durable. Their customer service was good. It will be difficult for me to find another company from which I can purchase my t-shirts, turtlenecks, and other basic items but, unfortunately I will have to do so.

    5. Gaye Plunkett says:

      Fine. I’ve been a loyal customer for years. No more.

    6. Here’s why they’ll never budge – several religious schools purchase their school uniforms from LE and said they would cease doing so. Tens of thousands of dollars worth. Grrrrr

    7. Cathy Wright says:

      Since Land’s End had made their choice to be anti-choice, then so must I. Even though I have been a loyal customer and enjoyed their clothing for years, I will be buying from they no longer. Women in our history just like Gloria Steinem, are the reason we as women enjoy the freedoms we do today and have the ability and monies to shop at stores like Land’s End. By denying Gloria, you are also denying all our fore mother’s who have fought for our freedoms. This minority group you are now pandering to are a religious faction, that would have us re-embrace the dark ages. You have picked the wrong side I am afraid, doubtful their husbands will allow them the allowance and permission to shop at a place like Land’s End. Well, you did have Gloria Steinem in one of your ads, how scandalous.

    8. I shop with you three times a year and buy gifts from you for family members …you have lost my business !!

    9. Lands End —I am sorry you caved to anti Gloria Steinem threats. I never walk into Holly Hobby, schedule a vacation or conference in a state that is biased to gender equality or shy from equal rights for women. I will reflect on your decision to step back from women issues. The women who make your clothing deserve a voice for equality on a multitude of issues. Gloria Steinem has been a strong voice advocating for women for decades. Lands End you have made a terrible decision to weaken in your moment of solid vision. Remember when the Orange Juice industry made Anita Bryant their spokes person an unreasonable/unjust fundamentalist? You walk the same path. Honestly, Lands End to you have an opinion or lack the courage for honesty?

    10. Julie Hirschfeld says:

      I was so pleased and happy to see the Steinem insert, and had plans to make purchases this spring. It is extremely upsetting that a prominent American brand would participate in the “disappearing” this icon of women’s rights from your site.

    11. I’ve been trying to sign the petition — I’m a LE customer, and this really upsets me — but the page doesn’t fully load, so there is no way to sign. Please find a way to correct this so I can express my displeasure to the source. I doubt that they read this blog, though I wish they did.

    12. I am done… Thanks for the shopping memories

    13. Martha Grimson says:

      Wish you had the courage of your convictions. Caving in to a small group while the vast majority support women’s rights is really unfortunate. Puts you in a “no-win” situation. Makes you wish you’d stayed silent. That’s the power fear-mongering conservatives have. That’s how rights are lost for us all. Don’t cave!

    14. I’d thought better of L.E.

    15. Roberta Rakove says:

      Goodbye to the perfect bathing suits. No one disses Gloria Steinem and gets my money.

    16. martin Doherty Jr says:

      money is not a god. Free speech is a value and dialogue is necessary. Reprint Gloria Steinem and print the opinion opinion of another opposing woman. Raise awareness. Don’t sweep it under a rug or to a back alley. Use coat hangers rightly.

    17. Sherry Zaffaroni says:

      Thank you for your decision. While many people believe only their opinion matters, I feel every opinion matters. When did it become wrong to say what we think. Yes, I believe having an abortion is right in some cases; and no, I do not have a right to control another persons life. Bottom line…no matter what we do in life, we are going to offend someone, and where do we draw the line. You just got yourselves another customer!

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