Disturbed, dismayed, upset—these are just some of the words Wittenberg students used to describe their emotions towards Urban Outfitters’ release of the blood-splattered Kent State sweatshirt.
“I think that Urban Outfitters really crossed the line this time,” said Wittenberg senior Victoria Perlak.
The sweatshirt design, of which there was only one product in stock, was released as part of Urban Outfitters’ “Vintage Finds” clothing line, and has been interpreted as an allusion to the Kent State Massacre in 1970, in which four unarmed students were killed by the Ohio National Guard during an anti-Vietnam War protest.
“I have friends that currently go to Kent State,” said Wittenberg junior Brenna Doherty. “They were absolutely outraged.”
The clothing retailer recently responded to public criticism on Sept. 15, using TwitLonger, saying, “It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970.”
Urban Outfitters went on to say that not only was the “one-of-a-kind” sweatshirt originally intended to be a part of the sun-faded vintage collection, but also that the red stains resulted from discoloration of the original shade of the shirt, and the holes resulted from natural wear and fray.
The item was recently bought and is now listed on eBay for $550, with a $2,500 “Buy It Now” price, according to “The Week.”
It has since been removed from the Urban Outfitters website.
Historically, Urban Outfitters, a store primarily aiming at young hipsters, has been known for releasing other controversial items that have offended some in the Black, Jewish, and Native American communities, in addition to some liberals, conservatives, and eating-disorder awareness groups.
Some of the offensive items included a Holocaust-evoking “Jewish Star” shirt; a t-shirt offering the color option, “Obama/Black;” pill-bottle shaped alcohol paraphernalia; and a t-shirt displaying the phrase, “Eat Less.”
In many of the cases, the clothing line has stated that the allegedly offensive and racist items were simply problems of oversight, and that they sincerely apologize for any harm or damage the items may have caused.
However, because of the controversial history of Urban Outfitters, many students said that it is hard to take the company’s apology seriously.