Update: Urban Outfitters apologizes to Kent State over sweatshirt controversy


In 2014, retailer Urban Outfitters promoted a controversial Kent State sweatshirt.

Hannah Armenta


Urban Outfitters expressed its remorse for the Vintage Kent State sweatshirt that was for sale on its website earlier today in an exclusive statement to The Kent Stater.

 “Urban Outfitters would like to extend our sincerest apologies to Kent State University and the Kent State community. We are deeply saddened by the recent uproar our Vintage Kent State sweatshirt has caused,” Crystal Carroll, a spokesperson for Urban Outfitters said. “Though it was never our intention to offend anyone, we understand how the item could have been perceived negatively.”

The sweatshirt, which is in a faded red color, has splotches of red that initially looks like blood. Urban Outfitters purchased the “one-of-a-kind” sweatshirt from the Rose Bowl Flea Market as a part of its sun-faded vintage collection. The discoloration on the sweatshirt that is being mistaken for blood, came from the sweatshirt’s natural fading and sun exposure, Carroll said in an email.

“This truth does not excuse us from our failure to identify potential controversial products head on. We, as a company who caters to a college-age demographic, have a responsibility to uphold to our customers,” Carroll said.

“Given our history of controversial issues, we understand how our sincerity may be questioned. We can only prove our commitment to improving our product-screening process through our actions and by holding ourselves accountable.”

Contact Hannah Armenta at [email protected]  


Urban Outfitters is facing public backlash after Buzzfeed announced the clothing company was selling a vintage, red-stained Kent State sweatshirt that looked like it had blood stains on it.

News sites and social media users claim the red-stained sweatshirt is offensive because it indirectly refers to the May 4, 1970 shootings at Kent State in which the National Guard shot and killed four students protesting the Vietnam War near Taylor Hall.

Urban Outfitters sold just one of these sweatshirts, which Buzzfeed found though a search on the company’s website. The sweatshirt, which Urban Outfitters sold for $129 on its website, is now being sold on eBay at a starting bid of $550.

Kent State said in a press release that the sweatshirt is “beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.”

“May 4, 1970, was a watershed moment for the country and especially the Kent State family,” the press release said. “We lost four students that day while nine others were wounded and countless others were changed forever.”

Urban Outfitters issued an apology on its website this morning.

“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.”

See the Storify here.

Contact Madeleine Winer at [email protected].