Controversial sweater crosses line


Would you be willing to protest against one of your favorite stores if their product became offensive on multiple accounts?

Lately, owner of Urban Outfitters, Richard Hayne, hasn’t had the best of luck when it comes to people loving the products coming out of his stores. It’s not news that Urban Outfitters has always had more risky and quirky vintage “hipster” pieces.

However, what appears to be a blood-stained Kent State sweatshirt could cross the line from unique fashion to just plain unacceptable.

In 1970 during a protest, 13 students were shot and four were killed tragically on the campus of the university. The coincidence of the college and pattern choice on this sweatshirt was bound to cause some outrage.

What the LA Times called the “hand-me-down from hell” blew up on social media last week after the oddly dyed vintage Kent State sweatshirt was sold for $129 online. They also said, “Everyone who ranted about the Kent State shirt on social media this week only made that strategy more effective.”

The real question that needs to be asked is, did the designer really not know what their product would symbolize? Are the people creating clothing really unaware of the incident that happened over forty years ago?

Whether it was pure stupidity or actual intention to make the sweatshirt look blood-stained is a mystery. However, shouldn’t someone have said something before it hit the racks?

Urban Outfitters has specific employees called “renewal buyers.” These buyers find vintage clothing and are supposed to “come up with creative ways to reinvent vintage apparel by utilizing dye techniques and applique treatment.”

Yes, here in the United States we have the privilege to freely express ourselves, but the Kent State shirt is on a different level.

It’s not even the first design that Urban Outfitters had received scrutiny for. The Week posted through Facebook the “12 Biggest Controversies.” This included pro-booze teen shirts, a Holocaust-evoking “Jewish Star” shirt, the “Navajo Fashion” line, and an “Eat Less” t-shirt.

The target customer pool for Urban Outfitters is 18-24 year olds, so naturally it’s safe to say most of their clothes are probably bought by 15-17 year olds striving for an image they see on the cool models in magazines.

It could be a true statement that these kids are unaware of the meaning behind the print on their clothes, however, there should be someone held accountable for a company’s product with society in mind.

Is it Urban Outfitters’ fault that the red-dyed Kent State sweatshirt would immediately be associated with the shootings of 1970? Probably not. Should someone have recognized the correlation and reacted? Definitely, yes.

“It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970, and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such,” Urban Outfitters said in a statement.

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