Fashion Ignites Social Conversation: The Urban Outfitters' Blood Stained Kent State Sweatshirt
The Urban Outfitters scandal involving their 'Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt' covered in blood spatter caused an angry public reaction, especially from the University. Should I jump on the shamming bandwagon because Urban Outfitters is a major corporation profiting from selling distasteful clothing? Probably.
In a culture where the news rarely revisits tragedies of the past, it's interesting that fashion has created the context for the 1970 Kent State shooting to resurface. It's slightly ironic given Urban's target market of shoppers in their teens and early 20's, who may not know about the event to begin with. In the issued apology, Urban denied the sweatshirt had any connection to the shooting, saying only natural wear and tear of vintage created the effect. Urban does not want to make a political statement, but they opened a political debate.
I'm mostly interested in the fact that an article of clothing has surfaced this layer of our history and created a rhetorical situation with potential to have a relevant social conversation. Whether that be about Urban Outfitters, capitalism and consumption, or the way unarmed individuals are still being killed by those meant to protect us- this scandal has opened channels of reflection and awareness. I hope we take advantage of the possibility because as a nation we need to face our histories, pay our respects and heal our wounds.