Basis for One of Rock’s Best Protest Songs Now Marked by Appalling Sweatshirt
In what has got to be the most head-scratching, WTF? fashion screw-up of the year, Urban Outfitters has manufactured a Kent State University sweatshirt apparently dotted with bloodstains. Again, WTF?
While the shirt has since been pulled and is no longer available on the retailer’s website, BuzzFeed has preserved some details from the sale, including this description of the item: “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!”
Urban Outfitters later apologized for the shirt, claiming that “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.” Um, OK.
Even if Urban Outfitters didn’t connect the dots between the red splatters on its KSU shirt and the tragic events that unfolded on the Ohio campus on May 4, 1970 — when four students were shot and killed by the National Guard — the damage has been done. It’s come under heavy fire for the shirt, which almost anybody with a sense of history and decency realizes is one appalling piece of clothing.
The events that unfolded on that fateful May day in 1970, like many political things from the period, had its roots in the Vietnam War. Students protesting the U.S.’ invasion of Cambodia were met with campus-wide protests (including the torching of the school’s ROTC building). By May 4, tensions between the National Guard — instilled by President Richard Nixon — and the protesters were approaching the boiling point.
Around noon that day, guardsmen took position at the top of a hill and began firing into the crowd. Thirteen seconds, and more than 60 rounds, later, four students were dead and another nine were left bloodied and injured. Two weeks later, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were in the studio recording Neil Young‘s ‘Ohio,’ one of rock’s greatest protest songs. It was released a few weeks later and climbed to No. 14.
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As BuzzFeed notes, this isn’t the first time that the brain trust at Urban Outfitters has blundered with a piece of clothing. Earlier this year, they pulled a shirt that had the word “depression” scrawled all over it.
And while you can no longer purchase the faux-vintage shirt at the retailer’s site — and seriously, why would you want to wear something like this anyway? — an enterprising eBay seller appears to be unloading the shirt with a starting bid of $550. Or if you can’t wait to show the world would a clueless ass you are, it can be yours for a Buy It Now price of $2,500.