Urban Outfitters
This "red-stained" Kent State University sweatshirt was for sale on the Urban Outfitters website.

Another Reason to Boycott Urban Outfitters?


This isn’t the first time Urban Outfitters has been under fire for selling controversial clothing and accessories. The company was even sued by the Navajo Nation last year for trademark infringement and violations of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act.

RELATED: Navajo Nation Sues Urban Outfitters

This most recent item goes too far as well. Urban Outfitters was selling a “red-stained vintage” Kent State University sweatshirt on its website for $129. According to Buzzfeed, the product description 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!”

Can we all be honest here, that red staining looked a whole lot like blood.

May 4, 1970 was a grim day at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. According to History.com, 28 National Guardsmen fired at a group protesting the Vietnam War, killing four students, wounding eight, and permanently paralyzing another.

“Two days earlier, the National Guard troops were called to Kent to suppress students rioting in protest of the Vietnam War and the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. The next day, scattered protests were dispersed by tear gas, and on May 4 class resumed at Kent State University. By noon that day, despite a ban on rallies, some 2,000 people had assembled on the campus,” History.com says. “National Guard troops arrived and ordered the crowd to disperse, fired tear gas, and advanced against the students with bayonets fixed on their rifles. Some of the protesters, refusing to yield, responded by throwing rocks and verbally taunting the troops. Minutes later, without firing a warning shot, the Guardsmen discharged more than 60 rounds toward a group of demonstrators in a nearby parking lot, killing four and wounding nine.”

Since an outpouring of social media negativity—some calling it in “bad taste,” others saying it’s another reason to boycott the company—the shirt has been pulled from the Urban Outfitters site and the company has issued an apology.

Here’s what the company had to say:

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.

Not before the sweatshirt sold, not before Yahoo.com referred to it as “regalia” and not before Kent State saw it.

Kent State issued the following statement:

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.

Someone still stands to profit on the gross item, the “one-of-a-kind” sweatshirt apparently popped up on eBay with a starting bid of $550, though it seems to have been removed.

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Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
What's next? Blood-stained clothing from Wounded Knee II? Urban Outfitter is an overrated, expensive store for rich yuppies and few REAL outdoorsmen use their products.