Urban Outfitters recently released an official apology for what resembled a blood-splattered, “Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt.”
The sweatshirt design alluded to the fatal school shootings that occurred in 1970 at Kent State University, where four people died.
Urban Outfitters said the blood-splatters were merely the faded design from its original shade. Kent State, however, issued a statement that they condemn the situation as one that “trivializes a loss of life that still hurts their community,” regardless of the companies official apology.
Still, Urban Outfitters is no stranger to controversy. The company sold shirts that consumers said believed to be insensitive to mental illnesses. They also removed a shirt from the market that has the single word “depression” written on it repeatedly, along with shirts that read “eat less” and “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”
The Jewish community criticized Urban Outfitters for putting a star on one of their shirts that resembled the Jewish holocaust star and for selling a shirt that featured a Palestinian youth holding an AK-47 with the word “victimized” underneath. Members of the Jewish community saw this as supporting terrorism.
Then, Urban Outfitters was called racist after they pulled a board game that was a remake of Monopoly called Ghettopoly. This game had properties entitled, “Cheap Trick Avenue” and “Smitty’s XXX peep show.”
The Kent State sweatshirt was being sold at $129 before being removed from the collection, according to USA Today. Consumers agreed that creating a sweatshirt that highlights campus violence was in bad taste and makes light of a tragic situation.
Jessica Foley, a senior at John Brown University, with mouth and eyes wide-open in disbelief analyzed the picture of the sweatshirt in front of her.
“There is an amount of honor and respect you need to have towards horrible events that have happened,” Foley said. “Honestly, there were many people hurt by the incident, and if you’re just making it as a fashion statement to have blood splatters on your shirt then it’s just wrong.”
Payton Vondoresten, 26, said when she saw the shirt it made her feel angry. “We’re all interested in personal gain. They knew it was going to be a controversial shirt and people would buy it,” Vondoresten said. “They dehumanize themselves when they do that. They’re selling someone else’s pain, and it isn’t okay to do that, you know?”
One consumer, Kelly O’Brian, 30, had a slightly different point of view. O’Brian, originally from Arvada, Colo, lost a friend in the 2012 Aurora shooting before moving to Arkansas. She said when she sees retailers selling shirts like this it makes her feel disrespected.
Although both consumers were upset about the kind of merchandise that Urban Outfitters repeatedly chooses to sell, neither one said they would take it so far as to stop shopping at Urban Outfitters.
“It’s tricky. If you start to boycott one thing, you boycott everything.” Vondoresten said.