Urban Outfitters is no stranger to controversy. The chain is known to push the boundary between “inappropriate” and “edgy,” often crossing over to the former. The store’s most recent controversial product was a one-of-a-kind Kent State University sweatshirt with red markings that look identical to blood splatter.
The Huffington Post said that the sweatshirt is “a clear reference to the 1970 killing of four students protesting the Vietnam War by the Army National Guard at the Ohio school.” With Kent State’s violent past, it’s hard to interpret the stain as anything else.
The item was sold for $129 on Urban Outfitter’s website but quickly removed. Apparently, not fast enough. The sweatshirt popped up on eBay not long after with a starting bid of $550.
Kent State was upset with the sweatshirts “tactless” reference and expressed their anger in a statement posted on Sept 15.
“We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit,” the statement read. “This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.”
Urban Outfitters posted an apology in response to the growing outrage saying that 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.” In addition to the apology, they said that the red splatter was not meant to be offensive.
“There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way,” the statement said. “The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray.”
The garment caused an outbreak of angry reactions on Twitter.
With all the attention Urban Outfitters is getting, it’s hard to believe that this controversial garment was a mistake. Do you think Urban Outfitters was truthful when they said it was not intended to be offensive but rather a mistake? Do you think it will affect the brand’s sales?