Editorial: Urban Outfitters shows it’s less than culturally sophisticated

Student protests broke out across the country after April 30, 1970, when President Richard Nixon announced that the United States was invading Cambodia, part of a larger escalation of the Vietnam War. One protest was at Kent State University in Ohio.

Ohio Gov. James Rhodes ordered the Ohio National Guard to restore order on that campus. On May 4, 27 Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on a crowd of unarmed student protesters. Four of them were killed, and nine were wounded. One was paralyzed. All but one were registered students. Some happened to be passing by the deadly volley when they were shot.

To this day, the slaughter is remembered as a turning point in how our citizens view their government.

Last week, for some reason known only to them, Urban Outfitters, a national youth-oriented chain clothing store, decided to market a Kent State University sweat shirt, holes and blood-colored dye included.

Wow. That is so funny.

After a national outcry, Urban Outfitters pulled the shirt from its website. It’s no longer available. Kent State University officials took “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,” Kent State said in its statement.

According to its annual statement, Urban Outfitters aims to attract customers ages 18 to 28, who “are culturally sophisticated, self-expressive and concerned with acceptance by their peer group.”

On Monday, the Philadelphia-based company evidently concluded that the shirt was was not culturally sophisticated after all, and said it “sincerely apologizes for any offense our vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused.”

“It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such,” the corporation said.


Urban Outfitters, with $3 billion in sales, hadn’t been extremely saddened when other sickening clothing items the company marketed were offered. Portrayals of drunken Irish on tees and caps, prescription bottle-shaped shot glasses, and a sleeveless tee with the words “Eat Less” worn by a waif-like girl are some of the other things they weren’t extremely saddened by after offering them for sale.

What’s next from Urban Outfitters? A Dealey Plaza T-shirt? A Pearl Harbor swimsuit? A 9/11 hoodie? Just when you thought our level of discourse couldn’t possibly sink any further, someone manages to lower the bar. Urban Outfitters’ stock price dipped ever so slightly on Monday.

We’re sure the company is extremely saddened.