Urban Outfitters Sells Bloody Kent State Sweatshirt, Quickly Apologizes

Christmas shoppers walk outside Urban Outfitters on December 14, 2013 in London, England.
Christmas shoppers walk outside Urban Outfitters on December 14, 2013 in London, England. –DAN DENNISON/ GETTY

If you’re going to sell a college-branded sweatshirt with what looks a whole lot like bloodstains and bullet holes on it, maybe you don’t pick the school with one of the most infamous shootings in history.

Urban Outfitters learned this lesson over the weekend, after BuzzFeed discovered it was selling a “Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt’’ for $129.

The listing urged customers: “We only have one, so get it or regret it!’’

Speaking of regret, after a widespread outcry, Urban Outfitters apologized via its Twitter account on Monday. It claimed that the blood-colored splatters and frayed holes were part of the shirt’s vintage charm:

“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.’’


On May 4, 1970, the National Guard shot into a crowd of 2000 people at a rally at Kent State University, killing four and wounding nine, all of whom were students at Kent State.

Was this red-colored, tattered sweatshirt merely an accident? The store does sell vintage college shirts from other schools, such as

Bates College and Cathedral College. They do not have blood-red stains on them.

Urban Outfitters’ mistake could be another person’s good fortune. According to The Washington Post, the sweatshirt is now being sold on eBay with a starting bid of $550.

The eBay seller wrote:

“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.’’

This is not the first controversial clothing sale this year. Last month, clothing retailer Zara sold a baby shirt that looked very similar to shirts worn by Jewish concentration camp inmates.

It’s also not the first controversial clothing sale for Urban Outfitters.Business Insider reported that the hipster clothing chain previously sold a “drunk Jesus’’ shirt, a “depression’’ shirt and “Lord Ganesh’’ socks.

In 2012, the Navajo Nation sued Urban Outfitters over the use of “Navajo’’ in naming their products.

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