After a controversy broke over an Urban Outfitters sweatshirt that appeared to make light of the Kent State University shooting, Urban Outfitters said that the blood-splattered design was actually just "vintage."
Earlier today, Buzzfeed reported on the discovery of a $129 sweatshirt for sale on the Urban Outfitters website that, well, very obviously appeared to match Ohio's Kent State University with its most infamous historical moment—the tragic killing of four unarmed college students by the Ohio National Guard in 1970.
Responding to the controversy, Kent State University issued a statement of condemnation this morning:
May 4, 1970, was a watershed moment for the country and especially the Kent State family. We lost four students that day while nine others were wounded and countless others were changed forever. We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit. This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today. We invite the leaders of this company as well as anyone who invested in this item to tour our May 4 Visitors Center, which opened two years ago, to gain perspective on what happened 44 years ago and apply its meaning to the future.
The sweatshirt in question now appears "sold out" on the company website, but the Urban Outfitters did respond to the uproar with this explanation of sorts (emphasis ours):
"Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. 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."
This is hardly the first time, the company has caused "upset." And for Urban Outfitters, the benefit of the doubt was hard to come by:
As a KSU student, this really bothers me. Yet another PR blunder for Urban Outfitters. http://t.co/fv5R3EZLiR— Hanna Moore (@_hannamoore) September 15, 2014
"We deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively.” http://t.co/g6nf74PQT7 YOU CAN’T EVEN APOLOGIZE PROPERLY FOR … **THIS**? REALLY?— Andrea Grimes (@andreagrimes) September 15, 2014
Elsewhere, as New York noted, the sweatshirt has appeared on eBay, where one seller is hawking it for $2500, half of which would go to the Southern Law Poverty Center.