Urban Outfitters’ “Distasteful” Shirt

BxlKz31CIAAyj0K.jpg-largeAs I prepared to get this blog ready for a new semester, I came across this: Urban Outfitters has apologized for selling a Kent State University sweat shirt that some feel was made to look bloodied. If you don’t know, Kent State was the site of a student Vietnam War protest on May 4, 1970, in which four student protestors were killed by members of the Ohio National Guard. The Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of the shooting (below) was taken by Kent State student John Filo.


According to NBC News, this was the company’s response: “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.” The shirt had been selling online for $129. Perhaps one Twitter user said it best: “Nothing says young and hip like a 43 year old massacre.” This reminds me of another case involving a massacre, La Señorita Mexican Restaurants.

Do you believe the contents of this statement, or not? Was the company’s response satisfactory?

9 thoughts on “Urban Outfitters’ “Distasteful” Shirt

  1. Not sure about the buyer; giving them the benefit of doubt, the buyer might have been a 20-something who was either asleep during American history class, or simply had no idea what happened at Kent State. It instantly hit home with me … then again I knew what happened there.

  2. This shirt is extremely disturbing. Even if you weren’t keen on historical facts, who would want to pay $129 to look like you were splattered in blood? I’m glad Urban Outfitters apologized, but their buyer and/or PR head should be fired for a complete lack of judgement.

  3. Let’s face it. Folks in the throes of pop culture don’t really grasp the significance of potent symbols like swastikas, peace signs, Che Guevara, etc. It’s just all part of the lighthearted fun. When something like the Kent State sweatshirt comes along and grabs the attention of serious observers, there is a shock and feeling that the world is going down the tubes. I doubt anyone at Urban Outfitters had ever heard of the Kent State massacre.

  4. I would tend to say that Urban Outfitters suffers from an overall lack of good judgment. Sophia Bush, star of Chicago PD and “Brooke Davis” from hit show One Tree Hill recently came out strongly against Urban Outfitters for selling a shirt that reads “EAT LESS.” I think that they try to be cool and edgy, but come out insensitive, distasteful, and downright inappropriate. Not only are their clothes scantily for the most part, they are advertising terrible messages that young, unaware consumers are throwing money at without knowing the consequences. It’s tragic.

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