If Urban Outfitters even, like, cared about competition or whatever, they might have just outdone themselves: Until this morning, UO was selling a single $129 faded vintage sweatshirt. From Kent State University. With what appears to be blood spatter. Jesus.
The description of the sweatshirt, which is now "Sold Out" (MEANING THAT SOMEONE FUCKING BOUGHT IT) read:
"Washed soft and perfectly broken in, this vintage Kent State sweatshirt is cut in a loose, slouchy fit. Excellent vintage condition. We only have one, so get it or regret it!"
Reminder: The Ohio National Guard open fired on college students who were protesting the US's military invasion of Cambodia, leaving four dead and nine injured in 1970. (The eight guardsman who were indicted claimed self-defense and their charges were dismissed.) That information is not included in the sweatshirt's description, but maybe it would have exceeded the character limit?
Seems like a pretty important detail to include when selling a sweatshirt that has what clearly looks like blood splatter and gunshot residue, even it's not and even if the item was not from the same era. Is it worse if someone further distressed the sweatshirt and added the spatter after the fact? Or is this just another millennial misstep? Did someone find it and put it up for sale, completely oblivious to its history, like that one time a young American Apparel employee photoshopped the Challenger disaster photo and posted it to Tumblr, tagging it #Smoke and #Clouds?
Urban Outfitters is no stranger to controversy. And by controversy, I mean people getting rightfully pissed off at the multinational corporation for issues like cultural appropriation, stealing ideas from independent designers, or just offering tasteless items.
In general, Urban Outfitters "Vintage Finds" appears to be an enormous gently simmering crock of shit. For example, they are also selling a "Vintage Red Destroyed Tee" (a ratty-ass piece of cloth) for $159, and the description lists it as a "perfectly broken in" "loose fit."
People, you cannot wear that.
But selling an article of clothing imbued with tragedy for the sake of being hip is something else. Something I can't really even fathom. Urban Outfitters is perfectly fine with capitalizing on a historic national tragedy, the death of four people in the name of Southeast Asian imperialism for $129. Quite the discount when you put it like that.
In response to the hullaballoo regarding the sweatshirt, Urban Outfitters gave a statement to Daily Beast's Asawin Suebsaeng:
It's strange that they said they removed it from their website (apparently UO will list an unpopular item as sold out even when it's not) because NOW it looks like someone on eBay is hawking a rather familiar looking sweatshirt, listed for $2,500:
The seller, kentstatesweater, ordered the sweater and has yet to receive it (posting a picture of the order confirmation), but intends to donate half the profit. The seller writes:
This is a listing for the infamous one of a kind Kent State Sweater.
I ordered it and am waiting myself, as soon as it arrives, I'll ship it to you. Perfect for Halloween or whatever your deal is.
Also; I'm gonna give 50% of the profit to The Southern Poverty Law Center, who protect those who cannot protect themselves, often those who are victims of police brutality.
I will forward the confirmation email from Urban Outfitters to SERIOUS BIDDERS and send the donation receipt once I get paid.
Ladies and gentleman, this is the world we live in. I'm out.
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 year ago, to gain perspective on what happened 44 years ago and apply its meaning to the future.
Screenshots of Kent State Sweatshirt via Buzzfeed. Additional screenshot via Urban Outfitters.