Why Urban Outfitters is Making Fools of Us All

So Urban Outfitters shit the bed this weekend. And when I say "shit the bed" I mean it metaphorically — unless I'm missing a key piece of information — but I also mean they really and truly fucked up in ways I hadn't previously thought possible. (And I mean, it's Urban Outfitters. Between t-shirts that glamorize sexual assault and claims from independent artists that the company has stolen their ideas, this is saying something.)

They, for reasons I hope none of us understand, paid tribute to the 1970 Kent State shootings by releasing a one-of-a-kind Kent State sweatshirt splattered with food colouring. So: they released a sweatshirt that looks like there's blood all over it. Since, you know, Kent State was home to the murder of four Vietnam War protestors who were shot to death on campus by the National Guard. Nine others were injured. Because who WOULDN'T want a sweatshirt that triggers PTSD?

Let's talk about the description.

"Washed soft and perfectly broken in, this vintage Kent State sweatshirt is cut in a loose, slouchy fit. Excellent vintage condition. We only have one, so get it or regret it!"

Oh! EXCELLENT condition! WONDERFUL. Because I would absolutely love to make sure that the fake fucking blood stains on a sweatshirt blatently mocking the loss of four lives look up to par. At no point would I want anyone to approach me and say, "Excuse me — but that splattering looks old." Can you imagine how embarrassing that would be? TO WEAR THIS SWEATSHIRT IN THE FIRST PLACE? 

"Get it or regret it!" the last sentence reads. Or what? What will happen? Will I be as upset as the families and friends of the victims whose deaths you're trivializing? Is that how I'll feel? Tell me, Urban Outfitters: if I don't spend $129 on a sweatshirt with fake blood on it, will I feel angrier than I do in this moment?

But it's okay, you guys. They apologized. Let's read what they had to say:

"Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused," they wrote. "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."

I can't. Babe? Guys? I cannot. First, I can't imagine anyone looking at a sweatshirt like that and not thinking, "Wow! So much blood!" Second, "Sun-faded vintage collection?" Cute! ALMOST as cute as the red stains being "discolouration from the original shade of the shirt." Because that's how shirts fade. In the pattern of blood splatter. Did you guys know? Well now you do, so you are welcome, we have all learned. 

What's even more frustrating is that the Washington Post has reported that the brand not only didn't take the sweatshirt down, somebody has already bought it and posted it on eBay where you — yes, you! — can own it for $550. 

"I ordered it and am waiting myself, as soon as it arrives, I'll ship it to you," says the description. "Perfect for Halloween or whatever your deal is."

Honestly, fuck this. Even though the users promises to donate "50% of the profit to the Southern Poverty Law Center," fuck this still. Because guess what half of $550 is: still profit. This asshole still profits from the romanticization of four people dying. Like, that's the thing: we might all be making sweet love to "the past," but the truth of the matter is that four people died and nine people were shot by THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT. Students fucking died. Actual human beings. And now we have a shirt that's perfect for "Halloween or whatever your deal is." Because now their deaths are a costume. "Oh, what are you supposed to be?" – "A victim who, 44 years after my death, is getting absolutley no respect!" – "Sweet, bro!"

There's a line. I mean, we're all absolutley horrible sometimes, but there's a line where that horribleness has to stop. Maybe we start with doing our homework — because if Urban Outfitters really didn't clue in when they saw that "naturally sun-faded shirt," that's a major fail on the part of whoever was in charge. (The Republican party? Since their CEO is very right wing?) Maybe we take time to learn about things. Like major historical events.

And then, when somebody does screw up, you don't buy their shit. You don't buy any of their shit. And you call them out by making it known to other companies that we're not going to put up with that. I mean, people make money off terrible taste all the time, but how dare a company make us feel like we "misunderstood" their intentions when they were to obviously diminish the effect of one's own government turning on its citizens. ESPECIALLY in a time like the one we're in.

What the hell, everybody.

Tags: Urban Outfitters and its Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt

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