Bizarrely stained outer wear that Urban Outfitters rather unbelievably tied to Kent State University has made Rep. Tim Ryan’s blood boil.
“On May 4, 1970, four students lost their lives at Kent State University and changed our country forever. It is deplorable for Urban Outfitters to exploit the pain and suffering of this national tragedy for their gain,” the Ohio Democrat said in a tersely worded official statement. “May 4th was a seminal and transformational moment in American history and we should never lose sight of its immense impact. Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.”
Ryan is referring, of course, to the horror scene that unfolded in Kent, Ohio, some 44 years ago, when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on Vietnam War protestors, killing four students and wounding nine others.
Urban Outfitters has since shelved the prototype covering from production.
The company also maintains the unorthodox design had nothing, in fact, to do with the campus massacre.
“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,” the company pleaded on social media . “Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.”
Casual observers seemed floored by how culturally blind retailers can be.
Urban Outfitters are selling a “vintage” Kent State jumper, blood splatters and all. Nothing says “hip” like murder. pic.twitter.com/tq63ONAniq — cory zanoni (@cjzanoni) September 15, 2014
The lack of judgment permeating companies is staggering. How many people signed off on the #KentState sweatshirt? pic.twitter.com/nuSgztvYZ2 — Carol Roth (@caroljsroth) September 15, 2014
Charmless @UrbanOutfitters exploits police murder for some "radical chic". Immoral and tasteless.#KentState pic.twitter.com/chSjH06RTe — Tim Brannigan (@tim_brannigan) September 15, 2014
Whether Urban Outfitters amazingly failed to connect the dots on this one or was forced to backpedal when an ill-conceived marketing campaign blew up in its face is up for debate. For now, at least, armchair critics can take solace in the fact this short lived fiasco is over and done with.