In a statement to Mic, UZI NYC cofounder Mari Gustafson explained the backstory behind the frock: “We named the dress in 2007 when we could not see ourselves escaping the reality of a global economy spinning out of control," she said, noting the word choice was meant to spark conversation. "We feel that it is important to keep these issues within public discourse... We could have named the dress anything we wanted but then we wouldn’t be having this discussion." It seems, however, that the brand missed the mark. And Twitter users weren't having it.
“So this brand thought it was appropriate to sell a ‘refugee’ dress? Disgusting,” one person wrote, while another not only asked that UZI NYC apologize, but that it donate to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, too.
As a response to the criticism, Gustafson offered up a non-apology: The language we have used to describe our fabric is common within the fabric industry, it in no way references human beings," she said. "We understand that we have unintentionally offended some people with whom we share the same concerns, but in that process we have also been able to amplify our shared message.”
The dress, which was apparently first issued in 2007, has since been renamed the Oxford Dress on the brand’s website. When asked why, owner and designer Dave Ball told Refinery29: “We have moved on from yesterday’s language.”