The internet was afire on Monday with the baffling Urban Outfitters Kent State sweatshirt featuring the university name and logo with a splatter of blood. Get it? Because the school is best known for the National Guard shooting in 1970? Hi-larious.

As a fan of the non-pology, what the company released later in the day after the item went viral was nothing short of spectacular. This may be the crappiest excuse for an apology in the history of human language.

Urban Outfitters 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. 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.

This is the Sistene Chapel of the "We are sorry that you got mad" genre. It may be imitated but never will it be equaled.

It's just a faded vintage sweatshirt. It happens to have a Kent State logo and it happens to have some stains that look exactly like blood. Also some holes. Totes coincidence.


  • I'm not admitting where I teach, but…how to put this…the shirt was *extremely* relevant to my professional community. Ahem. Anyway:

    It occurs to me that, about 40 years ago, said item would actually have been potentially quite popular with the anti-establishment crowd–kind of a "we are all the KSU Four." If Urban Outfitters had had brain one, they'd've sold it under those terms. Then again, if they'd had brain one, this item would not have made it past the planning stage. What's next–Tiananmen Square Chic?

    Just own it. You thought it would be 'edgy' and you went too far. You can't be 'edgy' without pissing off some people, and in this case, you pissed off too many. Sorry, we'll think better of it next time. I know I'm supposed to be shocked that a large company made a grotesque product that they sought to market to the masses, but I'm not shocked because A. the idea of a company doing something appallingly tasteless/immoral is just par, isn't is?, and B. the masses have shown a fairly consistent willingness to lap up some truly terrible shit, so it's not like Urban Outfitters was really coming out of nowhere on this one.

    So, despite my front row seat on this one, I'm not offended beyond my usual sad conviction that Ambrose Bierce might have been a little too optimistic.

  • As a fellow connoisseur of the nonpology, this is a fine example. But fine examples are all around us these days. Australia's sportspeople (who am I kidding? Men. Sportsmen.) are an endless font of these sorrynotsorrys. A few years ago, there was a little trouble with gang rapes (yes, plural). No, the problem wasn't the crimes, of course, it was the hassle it caused those around the perpetrators. "I am deeply sorry for the impact this had on my family, my team, the club and the league" was the go-to line. The women involved? No, to the best of my recollection, none of them Ever got any apologies.

  • Somebody bought that shirt. It's up on eBay, starting bid of $500 or $2500 to buy it right away. Because the world is full of terrible people, someone will buy it.

  • Yeah, a totally bullshit apology!

    What's next?
    A blood-red t-shit with eye-holes but no hole for the head, with "ISIS did this to me!" written on the front and back?

    There's edgy, and then there's fucking stupid with deplorable taste.

    Congrats! You succeeded in the latter!

  • Yeah, a totally bullshit apology!

    What's next?
    A blood-red t-shit with eye-holes but no hole for the head, with "ISIS did this to me!" written on the front and back?

    There's edgy, and then there's fucking stupid with deplorable taste.

    Congrats! You succeeded in the latter!

  • They may as well have produced:

    "My parents sent me to Kent State, and all I got was a National Guardsman's bullet in the chest."

    What gets me about all this is the rank cynicism that "informs" Urban Outfitters that we're all utterly stupid — and/or without any memory. Maybe those responsible are just too young? I constantly amaze all my very-young co-workers with tales of that era, i.e., that Kent State happened at the same time I was applying to colleges, so I had to figure out which college would allow me to survive.

    Awful, simply awful…

  • It's not just this. I'm not a huge fan of "Hipster Hitler" and similar.

    There's humour. There's coping humour. There's tasteless humour. Then there's this crap.

    Perhaps the people who came up with this are of the same cloth as those who made the UC Davis macing memes.

    Now get the F*** OFF MY LAWN!

  • It looks like it could very well have been a machine anomaly that produced that pattern. The dye is intended to distress the fabric to give it a worn look. While UO could've/should've noticed the resemblance and pulled the item, I think it's unfair to be so sure of their motives.

  • Given where its profits actually go, nothing makes me happier than seeing Urban Outfitters damaging its brand. That said, in my circa 1980 punk rock crowd, this sweatshirt would have been a perfectly acceptable political-fashion statement, whether DIY or found. But it would have to have been DIY or found – once available for purchase in a mall, any plausibly coherent political subtext falls away, and it becomes "edgy" rather than edgy. No mass market retailer can occupy the edge of anything; there isn't enough business out there.

  • For those of us who weren't alive (or can't remember) the events surrounding the Kent State shootings, I suggest reading the Wikipedia article (I know, but, seriously, it's actually pretty good) or doing some research on it. It should get you fired up and angry on a tuesday afternoon. I loved the Gallop poll taken right after the shootings- 58% of those responded thought it was the protestor's fault- I guess two of the students that were walking to class shouldn't have walked into the path of the bullets.
    I could go on about the parallels to Ferguson (vandalism! *those people*! inciting riots! real americans!) but why bother- the "freedom" loving conservatives only love freedom from taxes and responsibility.
    And seriously, WTF, UO. Red splatter stains on a "Kent State" sweatshirt??? Nobody in your marketing department thought that it *might* be a bad idea? It's shit like this that makes me believe in my own abilities in business- if morons like this get jobs, then shit, anyone can make money.

  • For those of us who were in school at the time of Kent State, the shock and anger were immeasurable, along with the realization that "Yes, your government will kill you." What many people forget are the Jackson State killings just 11 days earlier.


    The police responded in force. At least 75 Jackson police units from the city of Jackson and the Mississippi Highway Patrol[3] attempted to control the crowd while the firemen extinguished the fires. After the firefighters had left the scene, shortly before midnight, the police moved to disperse the crowd then gathered in front of Alexander Hall, a women's dormitory.

    Advancing to within 50 to 100 feet (15 to 30 m) of the crowd, at roughly 12:05 a.m., officers opened fire on the dormitory.[4] The exact cause of the shooting and the moments leading up to it are unclear. Authorities claim they saw a sniper on one of the building's upper floors and were being sniped in all directions. Later two city policemen and one state patrolman reported minor injuries from flying glass,[5] and an FBI search for evidence of sniper fire was negative.[6] The students say they did not provoke the officers. The gunfire lasted for 30 seconds, and at least 140 shots were fired by a reported 40 state highway patrolmen using shotguns from 30 to 50 feet. Every window on the narrow side of the building facing Lynch Street was shattered.[5]

    The crowd scattered and a number of people were trampled or cut by falling glass. Phillip Lafayette Gibbs, 21, a junior, and James Earl Green, 17, a senior and miler[5] at nearby Jim Hill High School, were killed; twelve others were wounded. Gibbs was killed near Alexander Hall by buckshot, while Green was killed behind the police line in front of B. F. Roberts Hall, also with a shotgun.

  • And seriously, WTF, UO. Red splatter stains on a "Kent State" sweatshirt??? Nobody in your marketing department thought that it *might* be a bad idea?

    Pretty sure the marketing department of Urban Outfitters were all born long, long after 1970.

  • schmitt trigger says:

    To the best of my knowledge, no human-wearable artifacts were ever found at ground zero….otherwise some moron would have sold smashed and dusted FDNY hard hats on ebay.

  • I was born in '82 and that shit pissed me off. I was pretty well educated on American history in high school. I don't even care much for Neil Young, but that song he made was pretty good. Absolute police brutality against a peaceful Vietnam War protest. Four American college students needlessly lost their lives. One should remember this incident for what it is and not see it as a way to make money on a stupid t-shirt, with or without the stain.

  • Isherwood: "a machine anomaly" would be less than 100 in a run of 1000s and therefore pulled before shipping by QC.

    You should ask *why* was Urban making a product using a copywrited name, and how did 1000s of product with the same "anomaly" get shipped.

    So no, we don't buy their, "Ooops".

  • I'm not buying that the people in the marketing, purchasing or designing department are all so young that they're unaware of that happened at Kent State. If that's the case then why pick a Kent State sweatshirt? What are they currently known for nationwide that their sweatshirts would be popular? Why didn't UO pick Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Texas A & M, or any of the other well-known schools?

  • At least somebody remembered enough to be outraged.

    At a county fair-type event near me (Topsfield Fair, MA) ~10 years back, I walked through the kiddie area and noted a large inflatable slide attraction in the shape of a ship's stern in the air. You climbed up a stairway and slid down the deck. On the stern: RMS Titanic. I still envision WTC bungie jumps in 50 years.

  • @Xynzee

    I assumed that the photo used for the product portrayed one example of a widely varying product set. Maybe I'm mistaken. If I'm not, I stand by my statement.

  • You have to love the passive-aggressive tone of the disclaimer; this Kent State shirt JUST HAPPENED to have holes and blood stains (red paint HAHAHAHA) and people got offended! What's up with THAT? Stuff! Happens! Stuff!

    It's got all the sincerity of a kid who flies a remote-control plane full of matchheads into a model of the WTC and then wonders why people get upset (soon to be seen on a right-wing YouTube channel near you).

  • What amazes me is that they were asking $129 for thin piece of crap. Who the hell is stupid enough to pay$129 for a f-ed up sweat shirt for a bad joke? It isn't quite as funny as fake dog shit or a whoopee cushion. Somebody's idea of hip is just a bit too twelve year oldish.

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