At first glance on the website, the sweatshirt seemed to fit the normal “look” of Urban Outfitters (distressed, worn-in clothing). Once I heard the story behind this clothing item, though, I was appalled.
In 1970, four students from Kent State University in Ohio were killed and nine were wounded in a shooting during a peaceful student protest over Vietnam. The National Guard fired on unarmed kids. It was a tragic event for the families and friends of these students, as well as the nation as a whole. Neil Young later wrote a song called “Ohio” about the tragedy.
Four lives were lost that day, leaving so many individuals in emotional distress, and Urban Outfitters decides it’s okay to make a “loose slouchy sweatshirt” representing what happened that day in a tasteless manner.
This is apparently not Urban Outfitter’s first run-in with this kind of an issue. When I talked to my friends about the sweatshirt I learned there have been several other offensive clothes they have had to issue apologies for, one being a t-shirt that had a star on the pocket which resembled the badge Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust. It’s really unbelievable what this company thinks it can get away with. They are a tasteless, exploitative, and nihilistic company that would do anything to make a profit. Exploitation of such an event should result in a financial punishment, so this company can really learn its lesson.
I cannot fathom how anyone would think this is acceptable to try and make a profit off of. Obviously they knew they would get publicity for being “controversial.” It could all be for attention. But does this really relate to what people always say that “no publicity is bad publicity”? Or is something else going on here? Why is Urban Outfitters so dead set on pushing the boundaries?
Clothing often gets scrutinized when it’s seen as controversial by the general public. Vivienne Westwood’s 1970’s era was seen as outrageous to so many people. But there’s really a difference between Westwood, who was a great influence on the “punk” era of fashion, and Urban Outfitters, who is making a statement in a much different way. Fashion is an art form, and there are no rules in art. But we have to draw the line somewhere.