Urban Outfitters has issued an apology after an uproar over a faux-vintage T-shirt that appears to reference the 1970 shooting of unarmed students at Kent State. The item features the school's logo surrounded by red splatters that resemble blood stains.
"Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused," the company wrote in a statement released on its Twitter account Monday. "It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. 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. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset."
During a Vietnam War protest at Kent State on May 4, 1970, four unarmed students were shot and killed and nine others were wounded by the Ohio National Guard. While the T-shirt has been removed from the Urban Outfitters website, some have already started popping up on eBay for as much as $2,500.
"May 4, 1970, was a watershed moment for the country and especially the Kent State family,'' the university wrote in a statement. "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."
The T-shirt design has received plenty of backlash online.
This is not the first time Urban Outfitters has drawn ire for its T-shirt designs. In 2012, it drew a reaction from the Jewish community after releasing a $100 shirt that had a six-pointed star that was reminiscent to a patch the Nazis made Jews wear in the years before the Holocaust. In 2011, a Navajo-related line of clothing and accessories was called "distasteful and racially demeaning." A year earlier, the company pulled a T-shirt from its website that had the words "Eat Less'' on it along with an image of a rail-thin woman.