Urban Outfitters pulls controversial ‘vintage’ Kent State sweatshirt

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(CNNMoney) — After coming under fire on social media, Urban Outfitters has apologized for selling a “vintage” Kent State sweatshirt that many found highly offensive.

The $129 sweatshirt has been removed from Urban Outfitters’ website. But images of the sweatshirt, which has red stains on it that critics say resemble blood stains, have been widely circulated online.

The edgy youth store issued a statement saying “it was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970.”

On May 4, 1970, four students were killed and nine others were injured at Kent State University in Ohio after National Guard open fire on protesters demonstrating against the Vietnam War.

Kent State University issued a statement denouncing Urban Outfitters for “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,” the statement reads.

The sweatshirt was panned on Twitter as “tasteless,” “tacky” and “awful.”

The “one-of-a-kind” sweatshirt was sold as part of Urban Outfitters’ “sun-faded vintage collection” and was not altered in any way, according to the statement. There is no blood on the garment and Urban Outfitters said the red stains are due to “discoloration,” while holes in the sweatshirt are due to “natural wear and fray.”

Now, the sweatshirt is for sale on eBay. The seller is asking $2,500 for the “infamous one of a kind Kent State Sweater.” The starting bid was $550 for the sweater, which the seller says is “perfect for Halloween or whatever your deal is.”

The seller promised to donate half of the proceeds to The Southern Poverty Law Center.

This is not the first time Urban Outfitters, which caters to young consumers who want to seem “hip,” has offended the wider public.

Urban Outfitters has previously come under fire for selling woman’s T-Shirts with “Eat Less” and “Depression” printed on it. The Philadelphia-based retailer has also been criticized for a shirt that evoked the stars that Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust.

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5 comments

  • Observer

    ““…it was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970.” Really? Sounds like the time to fire your entire marketing group, because the rest of us lowly consumers saw the connection RIGHT AWAY.

    • Jon B.

      FIre them? They need a raise.

      Yeah, okay, the “not our intention” bit was clearly the most pure, unadulterated BS ever manufactured. But while consumers saw the connection right away, they also reacted exactly the way the marketers wanted them to, to the tune of what I have to assume is at minimum, hundreds of thousands of dollars of free publicity.

      The very article we’re commenting on was their intention. Everybody sees it right away — but we walk right into it anyway. The power of marketing I suppose.

  • diane

    Doesn’t Urban Outfitter , and other trendy stores , routinely promote some tee Shirt or hoodie every year just for the free publicity? This happens a few times every year.

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