Kent State Scolds Urban Outfitters’ Red-Splattered Sweatshirt

(Chicago Tribune/MCT) -

Kent State University and many on the internet criticized Urban Outfitters Inc. on Monday for selling a sweatshirt with its college logo and what appears to be splattered blood, saying it evoked memories of the 1970 shooting where four students died.

“This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today,” the Ohio-based university said in a statement on its website. “We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit.”

Urban Outfitters, which apologized on Twitter, sold the item for $129 on its website, as part of an assortment of vintage clothing. It has since sold out. But it is being offered on eBay for a “Buy It Now” price of $2,500.

“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,” the company said on Twitter.

Urban Outfitters said the red markings were the result of distressing and “wear and fray.” Kent State invited anyone interested in buying the sweatshirt to tour its recently opened May 4 Visitor Center, noting the date when Ohio National Guard troops opened fire, killing four and wounding nine students during a campus protest of the Vietnam War.

The company said a visit would help them “to gain perspective on what happened 44 years ago and apply its meaning to the future.”