For the past year, Land's End has been working hard on reinventing itself with a slight luxury skew, creating a shift to attract millennial customers without alienating a loyal fan base. But the new Land's End proved to be a bit too much for longtime customers this past week — though it had nothing to do with design revamps. After the brand ran an interview with Gloria Steinem in its catalog and on its website, scores of pro-life customers took to Facebook express their anger. In response to customers' incensed reactions, the wholesome retailer took the interview down and apologized. Commenters accused the brand of being "anti-child" for featuring the pro-choice feminist icon. Some customers expressed that they wouldn't be shopping at the brand or dressing their kids in Land's End threads. "Those of us who love family, love children, are completely puzzled why you would promote a very vocal pro-abortion celebrity. Is this who you are, Land's End?" one customer wrote. The interview was part of the retailer's "Legend Series," which honors "individuals with different interests and backgrounds that have made a difference." It was conducted by the brand's CEO of one year, Federica Marchionni (a former Dolce & Gabbana exec tasked with bringing a bit of approachable luxury to to the brand). Interestingly, Marchionni and Steinem didn't actually discuss abortion in the feature.
“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," a spokesperson for the brand told Refinery29. "It was never our intention to raise a divisive political or religious issue, so when some of our customers saw a recent promotion that way, we heard them. We sincerely apologize for any offense.” In addition to taking down the story and apologizing for promoting Steinem online and in its catalog, Land's End also removed an option to donate to the ERA Coalition Fund For Women's Equality. (Customers could add the ERA logo to their purchase, like, say, on a tote bag; $3 would be given to the ERA.) The situation could potentially impact Land's End's robust school uniform business; the company supplies uniforms for approximately 5,000 schools. Two Catholic schools in Missouri decided to stop working with the retailer as a result of Steinem being featured in its catalog.