Urban Outfitters is once again at the center of controversy, this time for selling a Kent State sweatshirt that appeared to be splattered in blood.
The $129 shirt, sold as part of the Philadelphia-based retailer's vintage sweatshirt line, was so popular it quickly sold out -- but it also was decried as offensive because of the tragic killing of four students by the National Guard on Kent State's campus in 1970.
The university, located about 40 miles south of Cleveland, took “great offense” to the shirt:
“May 4, 1970, was a watershed moment for the country and especially the Kent State family,” read a statement posted to the university’s website. “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.”
Urban Outfitters has yet to return phone calls or emails from NBC10.
The company did, however, tweet that 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 at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such,” said a company statement posted online.
“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," it continued. "Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.”
The retailer dropped a photo of the “bloody” sweatshirt but did leave up the “sold out” page on its website.
Other vintage sweatshirts — including ones with “Penn State,” “University of Texas” and “Cathedral College” printed on them — were also listed as sold out on the Urban Outfitters site. None of those shirts appeared to be bloody, and the photos of each remained on the site.
This isn't the first time that Urban Outfitters has found itself facing public backlash over one of its items. Last holiday season they pulled a pair of socks seen as religiously insensitive.
They've also gotten heat for a pro-booze shirt sold to the 18 to 24 crowd, a "Jewish Star" shirt that drew comparisons to the Holocaust and about a dozen other designs laid out by The Week.