Urban Outfitters attempts to dodge public backlash

By on September 24, 2014

The clothing outlet, Urban Outfitters, has been getting itself in a lot of trouble—especially recently when one their sweatshirts got a lot of backlash from the public. There has been a large outcry, but this isn’t the first time. The company has a long history of releasing what many people consider to be highly offensive clothing.

In the past Urban Outfitters sold shirts that resembled the Star of David, an outfit that was created for Jews during the holocaust. Urban has also sold one-of-a-kind items like a t-shirt with the word “depression” written all over it, as well as another shirt that said “eat less.” Let’s face it, creating controversial clothing is kind of Urban Outfitters’ thing. They are pure professionals when it comes to pissing everyone off and, sad to say, they’ve done it once again.

Up until recently, Urban Outfitters was selling a vintage Kent State University sweatshirt online for $129 and it’s currently sold out. While the price in itself is insane, that’s not the true controversy everyone is up in arms over.

The sweatshirt had red splatters all over that look just like blood stains. This is horrifying to anyone who knows anything about the Kent State massacre in which four students were shot and killed during an anti-war protest on the university’s campus. The shootings took place on May 4, 1970, but the memories are no less painful nearly 50 years later.

Let’s get this straight. There was a school shooting at Kent State in 1970 and Urban Outfitters is over here trying to sell a shirt with blood stains on it. This is beyond messed up. Just because the Kent State shootings happened decades ago, doesn’t mean Urban Outfitters—or any company—has the moral right to create such a distasteful shirt.

The garment was mentioned by news outlets like the Huffington Post and even Buzzfeed was able to reach out to thousands of people, criticizing Urban Outfitters for being so disrespectful to such a sensitive subject in a poor attempt at being “edgy.”

Urban Outfitters CEO Richard Hayne sent out an email to all company employees stating that the controversy was purely an accident.

“It was mistakenly identified as ‘bloody’,” Hayne wrote. “We wanted to address this with our community and provide some ‘facts’.”

Yet putting quotes around the word ‘facts’ isn’t exactly convincing anyone that these ‘facts’ are anything but lies. Hayne continues to describe in the email that the shirts in the collection are “sun-faded” and “distressed”—not bloody.

Given the company’s track record, many people aren’t buying his explanation. Hayne’s excuse and this shirt are so beyond not OK. It’s like Urban Outfitters gets a thrill out of being absolutely horrible people.

In addition, Hayne has a net worth of $1.6 billion, according to Forbes. For a company that is so consistently offensive to such an astonishingly wide variety of people, you would think Hayne wouldn’t have anywhere near this much money.

“The chain’s often tone-deaf approach to racial and social problems have made it notorious,” Forbes writes.

It’s true, but the company simply does not seem to care, which infuriates people even further. This does not make the majority of potential shoppers want to continue supporting such an insensitive company. Kent State University then released a statement on their website after realizing such a crappy $129 shirt existed in the first place.

“We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit,” the university wrote. “This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.”

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About Sara Kozlowski

Arts & Life Editor
Email: artslife@quchronicle.com
Twitter: @sara_koz
Year: 2015
Major: Print journalism