Urban Outfitters Kent State sweatshirt sparks controversy

Urban Outfitters Sells Controversial Kent State Sweatshirt
Urban Outfitters Sells Controversial Kent State Sweatshirt

Urban Outfitters is finding itself, once again, in the middle of controversy -- this time after releasing a "vintage Kent State sweatshirt" with splattered red paint that looked like blood.

Although the sweatshirt quickly sold out, many expressed their disgust with the retailer.

In 1970 the National Guard opened fire on Kent State students protesting the Vietnam War –– four of those students were killed.

Late Monday morning the company issued an apology on Twitter and said the item was "part of our sun-faded vintage collection" and that the red stains were "discoloration from the original shade of the shirt."

Kent State University released a statement saying: "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."

The company has yet to comment on its motivations in making the sweatshirt -- but did say it didn't intend to make reference to the 1970 events. Still, some argue the company was using shock to sell.

Past controversies include a shirt depicting Jesus holding a beer and another with the word "depression" repeated, which seemed to make light of the mental illness.

The Philadelphia Business Journal noted that Urban Outfitters ultimately discontinued production of the "depression" shirt and issued a public apology via Twitter.

Those are only a couple of Urban Outfitters' recent controversies, with the "depression" scandal occurring at the beginning of this year. But even now, it's unclear why –– besides the shooting –– Kent State was picked as the college to center the vintage sweatshirt around.

Urban Outfitters founder and, as Forbes notes, returning CEO Richard Hayne is a graduate of Lehigh University.

And Kent State University's website reports the school's current enrollment is more than 27,000 students, which makes it only the sixth largest college in Ohio, according to a nonprofit website.

Other retailers have been under fire for using sensitive materials: Zara was slammed for a shirt resembling a concentration camp uniform, and Walmart recently apologized for a nazi 'decorative' poster.

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