Urban Outfitters' 'Blood-stained' Kent State Sweatshirt Prompts Outrage
Urban Outfitters is at it again. The apparel retailer best known for inspiring actresses to boycott and trivializing sensitive issues this week generated controversy after offering on its website a "Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt," decorated with a blood-splatter pattern atop the university's logo. A reference to the 1970 shooting that left four students dead and nine injured when an Army National Guard unit fired on Vietnam War protesters, the sweatshirt was listed at $129 with a description reading "We only have one, so get it or regret it!"
"Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. 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. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset."
That the apology seems a bit tone-deaf—the authenticity of the blood stains is hardly the issue here—should come as little surprise to those familiar with Urban Outfitters' recent track record. The company has come under fire for giving away hypodermic-needle-shaped pens bearing the name and logo of "Hairroin" salon, offering T-shirts emblazoned with a logo closely resembling that of Chicago's biggest gang, and selling a board game called "Ghettopoly," among other questionable decisions.
Kent State University issued a response criticizing Urban Outfitters. "We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit," the university said in a statement. "This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today."