TIME Style

Urban Outfitters: ‘We Understand How Our Sincerity May Be Questioned’

Following an uproar, the retailer explains how it ended up selling a 'bloody' Kent State sweatshirt in a statement provided to TIME

On Monday, we wrote about the latest controversy to hit clothing retailer Urban Outfitters: a vintage Kent State sweatshirt that appeared to have blood stains on it, an apparent reference to the shooting deaths of four students by National Guardsmen that took place during a May 1970 protest on the Ohio campus.

Though Urban Outfitters apologized soon after the sweatshirt began to make news, on Tuesday the retailer issued a fuller explanation about the incident to TIME.

The company only had one sweatshirt, it says, which it purchased at a flea market. “Given our history of controversial issues,” the retailer says, “we understand how our sincerity may be questioned.”

Here’s Urban Outfitters’ full explanation of how it came to sell the sweatshirt:

Urban Outfitters would like to extend our sincerest apologies to Kent State University and the Kent State community. We are deeply saddened by the recent uproar our Vintage Kent State sweatshirt has caused. Though it was never our intention to offend anyone, we understand how the item could have been perceived negatively. The tragic events that took place in 1970 are not forgotten and our company regrets that people believe we would intentionally make light of such a horrific part of our nation’s history. To promote such an event is disgraceful, insensitive and in poor taste. To further clarify, despite what has been reported, this is a vintage item and there is only one. Once the negative feedback was brought to our attention we removed the item immediately from sale. Urban Outfitters purchased the one-of-a-kind sweatshirt from the Rose Bowl Flea Market as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on the sweatshirt nor did we ever promote it as such. The discoloration that has been mistaken for blood is from natural fading and sun exposure. With all of that said, this truth does not excuse us from our failure to identify potential controversial products head on. We, as a company who caters to a college-age demographic, have a responsibility to uphold to our customers. Given our history of controversial issues, we understand how our sincerity may be questioned. We can only prove our commitment to improving our product-screening process through our actions and by holding ourselves accountable. Again, we sincerely apologize for this unfortunate misunderstanding and are dedicated to perfecting our internal processes to help avoid these issues in the future.

Read more about read why the Urban Outfitters Kent State sweatshirt caused a controversy here, on TIME.com

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