The eagle-eyed and inveterate Chris Dunn sent me another story, this about the company Urban Outfitters which had put on sale its vintage clothing line, one of which was a sweat shirt for Kent State University. They took a great deal of heat for the piece of clothing though, for very obvious reasons.
Needless-to-say, there was quite a vocal outcry about how in horrific taste this appeared to be, considering the shooting deaths of four Kent State students in 1970.
Urban Outfitters immediately removed the shirt and offered an apology. But...
Instead of just taking down the shirt and leaving it at that, or noting that the item had been discontinued, instead they put up a big marker noting, "SOLD OUT," which gives a pretty sad, thoughtless impression that the shirt was wildly popular. This is in direct contradiction that its apology concluded that "we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset." Not that it was "SOLD OUT." (In fairness, as well, there may have only been one for sale, as appears to be the case too with a few other of the Vintage items. So, perhaps the one was sold. Perhaps. But even still, that's not what their apology says.
Further, in its apology, Urban Outfitters wrote --
"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."
While their explanation may well be possible, I took a look at the other sweatshirts in the Vintage line for the company, and there's a distinct lack of any discoloration. In fairness, there are no other sweat shirts with this same kind of faded look, but still...nothing comes even close.
There was one sweat shirt called "Vintage Red Destroyed" that appears like it might possibly maybe have this same kind of "discoloration," though at closer examination those marks seem to be holes in the shirt, not discoloration.
Look, honestly, I think it's a stretch that Urban Outfitters would be SO clueless and tone-deaf to put on sale a Kent State sweat shirt with faux blood stains. So, I'm willing to bend over backwards and accept the possibility of their explanation. (I'm also willing to accept that it wasn't discoloration and a mistake, but that's my second option.)
That said, what I'm not willing to give Urban Outfitters a pass on is how this shirt passed through Quality Control for the company. Did no one in the entire chain of command ever say, "Er, guys, I don't know if you're aware of this, but..."??? Maybe not. But... Well, at the very least, if that's the case, Urban Outfitters needs to do a new search for their Quality Control Department.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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