Urban Outfitters and The Kent State Sweater

Last year Urban Outfitters had the brilliant idea to take a horrible incident at Kent State University and profit off of it. They attempted to sell a Kent State sweater with blood splatter in reference to the shooting that occurred in 1970. They even had the audacity to name the sweater “Vintage” Kent State sweater. Of course the shirt received negative comments considering how awful the idea it is to profit off of tragedy. The shirt has since then been taken down, but the fact that they thought it was a good idea in the first place is baffling. Despite being a tragedy that happened forty five years ago, imagine how this would feel if to the people who witnessed four people’s deaths. When I first saw this shirt, I instantly thought of the picture where the women is kneeling next to a dead body in immense amount of shock and pain. This type of fashion remembers the event as fashionable rather than what it truly is. Just imagine if Urban Outfitters sold a Virginia Tech Sweater with blood splatter stains– the very idea is disgusting and defines the evils of capitalism. Doing anything to get attention and obtain more profit. The sweater is just made out of poor taste and desperation to get attention. They did make an apology for the sweater saying they never meant to allude to the Kent State shootings, but honestly that makes no sense. They said the red stains were because of the discoloration of the original color for the sweater. Just the way they marketed the sweater was to reference the Kent State shooting, but then they realized it backfired, so they came up with the lame excuse that the sweater was strictly vintage. Naturally, Kent University took great offense to this. They offered an invitation to the people of Urban Outfitters to understand more what the shootings mean to the school, and make known that selling a sweater with stains similar to blood as fashion is disrespectful. In their response Kent State says the sweater trivializes the pain that affects the school to this day. Unfortunately, I cannot say this is the first time Urban Outfitters thought making a shirt out of crime is a good idea. They have made countless of shirts that refer to past events in history that are not to be celebrated. They have also created a shirt strikingly similar to the shirts that Jewish people had to wear when in concentration camps during the Holocaust. This is why it is hard to believe that the Kent State sweater is not meant to be in reference to the shootings.

Just like the Kent State Sweater, the shirt was made for profit. It also attempts to be cute despite being very similar to the ones the Jewish people wore. Fashion is a great way to showcase a person’s personal style, yet anyone who thinks this shirt is cute is reflecting the same ignorance Urban Outfitters wears. Then following that shirt is with a stripe pattern with an upside down pick triangle. This is, if not similar, the type of shirt gay Jewish people had to wear during the holocaust in the camps. Despite the negative comments Urban Outfitters receives for these types of clothing, they ignore their mistakes and still make them. There is an extreme problem with glamorizing this because of the history that comes behind it. As any art form that profits off of the pain of others, I condemn it. I am a believer in the arts, however, I draw the lines at certain moments. There comes a time where art is not as important as some play it to be. Art is an envoy for current ills of the world, but this time the use of fashion is abused. To add, this is not even for the sake of art or fashion, but whatever gets Urban Outfitters money. As you can see the Kent State sweater was sold at the priced of $129. Being a store of expensive fashion, that makes some sense. However, the price is so high to be profiting off of something so awful. This despite the idiocy that happens within Urban Outfitters, this is not affecting the business of the store. In fact, the publicity of these shirts have made them do better in sales. This makes the situation worst. Somehow, Urban Outfitters are profiting off of their mistakes. Being that Urban Outfitters never learns from its mistakes, more offensive clothes is probably going to appear. The only hope to have is that people understand that when fashion mocks or references horrific crimes it is distasteful and disrespectful.

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