Urban Outfitters have a reputation for bad decisions when it comes to their apparel, and have had to apologize for those decisions in the past. In this latest instance of a poor idea for a product, the company had created a shirt reminiscent of the murders at Kent State back in 1970. The item was a faded sweatshirt with the words “Kent State University” on the front and what appeared to be a blood spatter print near the arm. The shirt was offered on the company website for $129 and there was consumer uproar when a screenshot of it went viral.
This is not the first time that Urban Outfitters has come under fire for poor taste. In fact the company has come under attack before for offering offensive designs. Prior to the Kent State shirt, there was one that had the word “depression” repeated all over the front and back. Before that, a shirt had a star that was reminiscent of the insignia that Jewish people were required to wear during Nazi Germany. Even before that, a shirt was boycotted by actress Sophia Bush for saying “Eat Less” on the front, because she believed the shirt was promoting anorexia.
The Kent State shirt from Urban Outfitters is one that brings to mind the shootings at the University that ended with four people being killed. The University took offense to the shirt, and responded with a message to the retailer in which they let the company know that they were upset by it. The University told Urban Outfitters that they believed the shirt was using the tragedy to make a profit as well as to garner publicity.
Urban Outfitters has since issued a public apology for their bad decision in offering this shirt for sale. The company claims that the shirt was actually a purchase made as part of a collection they call “sun-faded vintage.” They then defended the shirt by saying that the part of it that looked like a blood spatter was actually red stains left from the fading, and holes which occur from natural wear and tear. In the apology issued, Urban Outfitters said that they regretted that the product was perceived in a negative light.
Although the apology was issued by the company and the product was removed from their site, the shirt apparently was purchased by someone. The shirt is now for sale on eBay with an opening bid of $550. The buyer of the Kent State product listed the shirt with a screenshot of what looks to be their receipt from the purchase. In the description the seller says the shirt might be good for Halloween. The listing also states that the buyer will donate 50 percent of the total sales to an organization known as the Southern Poverty Law Center.
While only one shirt was actually offered and sold, the image continues to make the rounds of social media. The bad decision from Urban Outfitters as well as their apparent apology has gone viral and led to a rehashing of what happened at Kent State in Ohio. The Kent State University has offered to host leaders from Urban Outfitters, inviting them to walk through their May 4 Visitors Center in order to truly understand what happened in 1970. The company has issued an apology, but there is no word on whether or not they will take Kent State up on their offer.
By Kimberley Spinney