‘It’s not blood,’ Urban Outfitters says of red-stained Kent State sweatshirt


This sweatshirt was being sold online by Urban Outfitters’ as part of the clothier’s “Vintage Finds” collection. The company explained that the red stain is nothing more than natural fading, but critics say it looks an awful lot like blood, which feels insensitive given the infamous 1970 National Guard shooting incident on Kent State’s campus that left four students dead in 1970. (Credit: Screen grab from UrbanOutfitters.com)

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KENT, Ohio — Kent State University said it took “great offense” to a vintage sweatshirt that was sold by Urban Outfitters, and it’s not alone.

Many others were appalled by the design, saying online that it looked blood-soaked and splattered.

Four unarmed Kent State University students died in May of 1970 when the National Guard opened fire during a Vietnam War protest.

The sweatshirt has the university’s name and seal across the front.  It contains different shades of red with the ink concentrated in certain spots.

The garment was listed for $129 on Urban Outfitters’ website.  The 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!”

Below is the statement on the sweatshirt from Kent State in its entirety:

“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 years ago, to gain perspective on what happened 44 years ago and apply its meaning to the future.”

Urban Outfitters also responded to the outrage the sweatshirt caused.

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. We deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.

Though Urban Outfitters said it removed the sweatshirt from its site, the item has since shown up on eBay.

Urban Outfitters describes its “Vintage Finds” as pieces from all over the map.

“Each piece is unique – we only have one available and it can only be purchased by a single customer,” the website explains.

That explanation didn’t exactly satisfy the masses on Twitter.

“Officially done patronizing Urban Outfitters and any of their affiliates,” one tweet read. “I am all for bold statements when done respectfully.”

Another tweet read: “Will there be Columbine and Sandy Hook style [available] too?”

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