What’s Gloria Steinem Doing in the Lands’ End Catalog?

Lands’ End caters to women looking for reasonably priced, conservative clothing for themselves and their families. The designs follow the trends but are reliably un-risqué and tend toward classic cuts. That’s how I would describe them, anyway—as a regular shopper at Lands’ End. Someone more fashionable and less charitable might also classify them as middle class mom clothes.

Given that clientele, one would think the Lands’ End marketing department would stay out of politics. In such a divided and often passionately partisan country, little is gained by appearing to take sides in the culture wars or showing one’s red or blue political stripes.

Yet Lands’ End has incautiously taken a great leap into the political waters by proudly featuring Gloria Steinem as a “Legend” in their most recent catalogue. In addition to showcasing her in their finery, they include an interview conducted by Lands’ End’s CEO Federica Marchionni. The interview avoids hot button political topics—the uninformed reader would have no inkling of Steinem’s strident brand of feminism—instead offering a series of vacuous exchanges about pursuing one’s dreams, overcoming challenges, and living a meaningful life.

In Steinem’s honor, Land’s End is also offering an “ERA” tote bag, presumably to build support for the decades-long feminist effort to add an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. It’s hard to imagine that this will be a big seller: The push for the ERA stalled long ago, overcome by the steady progress of women in just about every facet of life and the fact that we already are equal in the eyes of the law; we don’t need an ERA and we don’t need an ERA tote bag, either.

Presumably, the Steinem spread was not intended to boost Land’s End profits by selling ERA bags. Rather, this effort must have been meant to win Marchionni applause from many in the sophisticated fashion world. It doesn’t seem to be generating much enthusiasm from Lands’ End customers. Just hours after the interview became available online (and it appears to have now disappeared from the company’s website, although it still exists in print form) Lands’ End’s Facebook feed is littered with posts and comments pledging to boycott the store and expressing incredulity that the company would so purposely alienate their customer base.

Here’s just a sampling: 

CE Elayne‎:  No need to send me your catalogue any longer with the backing of Gloria. Disgusting.

Sterling Jaquith: I am pretty surprised about the Gloria Steinem thing too. We love lands end for their modest bathing suits. Their products are high quality, fashionable and modest! Now… I’m not sure if we’ll buy them this year.

Melody Lyons: I also received that catalog and agree. After being a 20-year customer, I’m done. Gloria Steinem?? What an odd business decision.

Eileen Finegan D’Angelo: When I checked the latest LE catalog I was shocked to see Gloria Steinem featured. Lands’ End has always been, to me, reliable in providing quality product and steered clear of controversial topics. I was really disappointed to see Ms. Steinem portrayed as a role model. To me she represents the worst of the feminist movement. I won’t be shopping at Lands’ End any more unless they can find an alternative individual to feature who represents my views, perhaps someone like Carly Fiorina or Lila Rose. It’s a dangerous path when companies being to show political preferences. You won’t be able to please everyone, and you will likely alienate many more than you please.

Perhaps Lands’ End’s public relations team had thought that this effort would be a way to increase engagement with their customers, and truly had planned to balance the Steinem interview with one from a well-known conservative in the next catalogue. Perhaps Condoleezza Rice is slated as the next “Legend,” and Carly Fiorina, Senator Kelly Ayote (R-NH), Governor Nikki Haley (SC), and Governor Susan Martinez (AZ) are being contacted right now to pick their outfits for an upcoming photo shoot.

Yet, somehow, I doubt it. Moreover, featuring a conservative to balance out Steinem really won’t do the trick. Some conservative customers may be pleased, but then Lands’ End’s Facebook feed would surely be flooded by an equal number of irate liberal customers, horrified to see their political foe lounging around in their favorite jeans and cardigan set.

There are many appropriate places for political debate. Clothing catalogues aren’t one of them. Most Americans don’t want their decisions about what to wear or where to shop to be a political statement. If they are forced to make it one, they can take their business elsewhere. Looks like Lands’ End is learning that lesson the hard way.


  • valjean

    Clearly, Lands’ End needs Ms. Steinem like a fish needs a pink fashion cut polo with custom monogramming.

  • I would’ve missed this if not for you. I actually went into my garbage to try and find it. Kinda sorta hoping to find a garbage spooge copy to take a memorial picture.

  • Eileen Davis

    to be clear, ratification of a federal Amendment guaranteeing gender Equality in our US Constitution (The Equal Rights Amendment), (and no its not already there), is not a repudiation of “pro life values”, it is simply about equality. To suggest every issue affecting women is uterus related is in and of itself sexist. This narrative is as relevant as interjecting prostate health wording into a debate about minimum wage. learn more about this important civil rights and economic equality issue at Women-Matter.org

    • Cypressclimber

      Well, given that the Supreme Court found a right to same-sex marriage in the 14th amendment, it’s not unreasonable to wonder just what legal tidbits they would find in the ERA.

      In any case, the ERA is redundant. In what way does the 14th Amendment not protect women?

      • Eileen Davis

        it is not redundant- it was the civil war amendment meant to convey rights to freed black men: as Scalia said: “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.” – Justice Antonin Scalia, Hastings College of Law, September 17, 2010.
        also the wording of the Equal Rights amendment is identical to the 19th amendment with the switch of only three words, equality of rights vs the right to vote- it is quite straightforward

        • Cypressclimber

          “…meant to…”

          Well, there’s your problem. You focus on the ultimately unknown and unknowable “intentions” of the framers of the amendment, rather than the entirely knowable text of the amendment. Intention — what was “meant” is a slippery thing, since there is no possible way anyone but God can know what was intended by each and every person who had a hand in the 14th Amendment becoming part of the Constitution. You can only know what some of them told you about their intentions, and because that is self-selected, you can’t rely on it.

          Instead of chasing shadows, let’s look at what we have. Here’s section 1 of the the amendment:

          All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

          “All persons.” Please explain how women are not included in this.

          • Eileen Davis

            Section one is what you call a good start,…. how about you read section 2 of the 14th amendment (which is one big walk back from “all persons”) where it says male citizens and male inhabitants three times in explicit intent to exclude women.
            To repeat the 14th amendment was not written to include women, it was the post civil war amendment meant to bring equality to freed black men.(guess you didn’t see the movie Lincoln either) As has been oft noted, people who quote the constitution or the bible have rarely read either in any detail…..
            “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.” – Justice Antonin Scalia, Hastings College of Law, September 17, 2010.
            If I could choose an amendment to add to the Constitution, it would be The Equal Rights Amendment
            Ruth Bader Ginsberg April 18 2014

    • 2+2=4andalwayswill

      I suppose you’re too young to know that the ERA originally failed ratification because it included the draft for women. Once women found out about that – the writers tried to keep it on the down-low but Phyliss Schlafly got the word out – there was just no way. But that was 40-odd years ago and now times have changed. Women want combat equality now so maybe you feminists can get it moving again.

      • Eileen Davis

        I am indeed not too young. Indeed fear mongering, women in the military and family bathrooms hobbled the Equal Rights Amendment. Ironic we have both burt still not ERA. Congress with or with out a ratified Equal Rights Amendment has always had the right to register women for selective service , but has chosen not to. This is currently verified by the call by the military generals to begin registering women, even in the absence of a ratified Equal rights amendment, thereby proving my point, it was never a legitimate issue, but rather part of the propaganda. learn more at http://www.women-matter.org

        • 2+2=4andalwayswill

          It wasn’t fear mongering, it was a fact. And how you can pretend it wasn’t, since we now have a lot of the stuff they were working for, is beyond me. But then, feminists always lie.

          • Eileen Davis

            what the naysayers like you were afraid of was fear of social change, b/c the paradigm advantaged you. Well guess what , change happened anyway, and that is a fact and without a ratified Equal rights amendment, proving the point,that all the changes you were afraid were not on the back of the equal rights amendment. And” feminists always lie “proves you are not one to have an honest discussion- pardon me your misogyny is showing and our friendly discussion of fact over. fact is old misogynists like you are no longer relevant

          • conor_ob

            “fact is old misogynists like you are no longer relevant”

            Old feminists like you aren’t either, according to opinion surveys. Equal rights are a reality. Quit living in the past and pretending you’re a victim.

          • James

            Au contraire, mon sœur. Misogynists have never been more influential and relevant and powerful and in a position to shape the future. Thanks to the feminazi wackos, even a lot of women are misogynists now, in case you hadn’t noticed. Open your eyes.

  • Hannah Mallery

    Funny, now that they’ve apologized, they are getting tons of flack from pro-choicers for being “weak,” and “caving to radical right wing extremists.”
    Nobody forced LE to do the interview, and nobody forced them to apologize. People vote with their dollars, and if you want to feature controversial people, you risk losing votes.
    Gay marriage advocates did the very same thing to Chick-Fil-A, and if you can’t by conscience patronize an establishment that supports views which oppose yours, you are free to shop elsewhere! That’s the beauty of capitalism.

    • Praelium

      “You are free to shop elsewhere!” Excellent point. Bravo. Just as Chick-Fil-A took a stand, remained firm and increased sales, so to Land’s End should stick with Gloria Battle-ax, remain firm, and watch their sales. Backtracking is a sign of cowardice and a failure to understand capitalism: have a clear product, be firm and let the customers decide.

    • James

      It could just be that the imbeciles who run Land’s End had no idea how controversial Gloria Steinem was. You don’t get away with promoting controversy and then trying to have it both ways. If they were going to go with the feminazi, they needed to stick with the feminazi. If they didn’t intend to stick with it, they never should have stuck their neck out in the first place.

  • Coral Ard Dawson

    Carrie, one of my close friends from college, is WAY off base here. Land’s End was right in supporting Gender Equality as EVERYONE should be. I am so incensed by the religious right having any sway at all with a company that I will not spend a cent more at Land’s End ever until they get a backbone and support Gender Equality all the way. We absolutely need that. Yes, Land’s End was only the domain of school uniforms and tote bags, but even that can be eliminated and should be by any buyer with ethics. Absolutely disgusting that their corporate headquarters would give in even for a period of hours to the religious right on opposing women’s rights and gender equality.

    • conor_ob

      Seems like you’ve just proved your friend’s point. They’re losing business now from the left and right. Great business move.

    • L.B.

      “I am so incensed by the religious right having any sway at all with a company” In other words you’re ok with the godless left having sway over company policy.

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