Urban Outfitters Sells Blood Splattered Kent State Sweatshirt

On May 4th, 1970 four unarmed students were shot and killed by the National Guard while they protested the Vietnam War at Kent State University. Humans who have taken an American history class since then know that it was a national tragedy that has had significant political and historical impact on the country. 44 years later Urban Outfitters thought it would be a good idea to sell a blood soaked vintage Kent State novelty sweatshirt… with holes in it. Too soon?

Anyone who has ever had to work with any kind of corporate overlord knows the great lengths that companies go to maintain their public image. Even a fake-edgy brand like Urban Outfitters normally knows you can’t make light of an iconic national tragedy.  You show up to Urban Outfitters corporate offices with your “Burnt and Tattered New York Clothing Pulled From Ground Zero” t-Shirt concepts thinking they will fit right in next to a “Kiss Me I’m Drunk” shirt and they will smugly tell you “that’s not really our brand.” Somehow though someone designed a Kent State blood soaked sweat shirt and it made it through the boardroom and all the way to their hellish hipster sales floor and website. (Too late, it’s “Sold Out!”)


T-Shirt inspiration.

Here’s the best part. After public outcry on the internet Urban Outfitters is denying that the sweatshirt was actually blood splattered. …   The PR person, who I assume kicked off their fantastic week “just crushing it” with this response:

“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.”

Really? This doesn’t look like it has blood on it? Whether or not you think this shirt is offensive or in poor taste, there is one thing I think we can all agree on; this shirt looks like it’s covered in blood splatter! I mean come on; it looks like something Dexter wore while murdering the guy who designed this sweatshirt for being such a moron.

Also, and correct me if I’m wrong but WHY would anyone buy a Kent State sweatshirt unless you went there? Are they known for their sports? When I think Kent State, I think Vietnam protesters being shot by the National Guard. What’s next? Penn State branded “Water Boy Locker Room Towels?” Kent State issued a statement condemning the shirt.

“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.”

$129? Who said being offensive was cheap?


So what do you guys think? Is this an honest mistake or super offensive?

Follow Phil Haney on Twitter @PhilHaney