Urban Outfitters’ Latest Fashion Offense Goes Too Far

Urban Outfitters has issued an official apology today after an item for sale on the clothing store’s website sparked an online uproar over the weekend. The controversy stemmed from the sale of a $129 faded Kent State University sweatshirt that appears to have a blood spatter near the armpit and hem.

Urban Outfitters claims that the sweatshirt was a “one-of-a-kind item. . .purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection.” But to many observers, the sweatshirt seemed to allude, not so subtly, to the massacre at Kent State in 1970, in which the Ohio National Guard opened fire on Vietnam War protestors and killed four people. The loss of young lives at the hands of the National Guard brought shame to our country and unimaginable grief to friends and family of the victims.

Needless to say, Urban Outfitter’s reference to the tragedy—intentional or not—was poorly received on Twitter, with some people calling for a boycott of the retailer:

In response to the uproar, the company issued an apology, although some may consider it more of an excuse.

“Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused,” a spokesperson wrote on Twitter. “There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The 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.”

It’s not the first time that the store has ruffled feathers with a controversial item for sale. In 2012, the store caused uproar after selling a t-shirt with a six-pointed star on the lapel, evoking the star of David Jews were forced to wear during Nazi occupation.

In 2010, the store kicked up more controversy with a v-neck t-shirt that had “Eat Less” written on the front.

You’d think by now the retailer would have learned its lesson: tactlessness isn’t a good look. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be getting the memo.

Meanwhile, Kent State officials responded to the controversy with a stern denouncement of the retailer and its sweatshirt.

“We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit,” reads a statement from the University, released on Monday. “This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.”

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