Our View: The poorest of taste

KS Editors

It didn’t take long for word of Urban Outfitters’ decision to sell a vintage Kent State sweatshirt that looked like it was blood-spattered to spread across the internet.

Urban Outfitters is known for controversial products. Some of the company’s recent transgressions include a v-neck shirt with the words “Eat Less” modeled by a thin girl that could have been perceived as offensive to those with eating disorders and another shirt featuring a five-point star badge that mocked the Star of David patch Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust. 

All of these items are of the poorest taste. They serve no purpose other than to garner headlines and gain publicity, and real tragedies and disorders should not be trivialized for the sake of being “edgy.”

It seems Urban Outfitters has no sense of the real people affected by the real tragedy of May 4, 1970. Death is nothing to play down. It is serious and should be taken as such in all contexts.

Yes, the company released an apology for any offense the shirt caused. The statement said, “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.”

However, because this is not the first incident this company has had with offensive items, it is hard to take the company’s apology as sincere. When a company repeats the same offenses over and over, it is clear that taking serious issues and mocking them isn’t something it feels uncomfortable doing.

Kent State released a statement that said, “We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit.” Later in the statement, the university invited leaders of Urban Outfitters to the May 4 Visitors Center to gain some perspective on the tragedy. 

We think Urban Outfitters should take this offer. Maybe then the company will learn to treat tragic events with sensitivity.