The brand claimed they were trying to "make a statement" and draw awareness to gun violence with the "ironic" pieces.
Gun violence in the United States is a rampant problem threatening the safety of communities across the country. Most concerningly, the number of mass shootings taking place in American schools has generated a new and unparalleled fear in faculty members, students, and parents. While citizens, lobbyists, and lawmakers continue to campaign for commonsense gun laws, fashion brand Bstroy has attempted to join the fight. However, their method hasn't been the most popular, The Guardian reports. During a fashion show earlier this week, the New York-based fashion label unveiled a set of sweatshirts with names of schools printed on them in a letterman font. This may have been perfectly fine, but the sweatshirts had holes tailored onto them to look like bullet holes. And the names of schools? They were all sites where mass shootings occurred.
The avant-garde fashion company unveiled the line of sweatshirts via social media platform Instagram on Monday, September 16. In a series of posts, they shared photographs from a recent fashion show of models wearing hoodies with bullet holes and names of schools where mass shootings took place. According to Brick Owens and Dieter Grams, the two men behind the now-controversial brand, asserted that they were simply being "playfully ironic" in order to send a message and make a statement regarding gun violence in the United States. Nonetheless, nobody's buying it.
Owens affirmed in a statement also posted to Instagram, "Sometimes life can be painfully ironic. Like the irony of dying violently in a place you considered to be a safe, controlled environment, like school. We are reminded all the time of life’s fragility, shortness, and unpredictability yet we are also reminded of its infinite potential." He added in an email to NBC Today, "We wanted to make a comment on gun violence and the type of gun violence that needs preventative attention and what its origins are, while also empowering the survivors of tragedy through storytelling in the clothes." Furthermore, Grams told The New York Times in an earlier interview, "We are making violent statements. That’s for you to know who we are, so we can have a voice in the market. But eventually that voice will say things that everyone can wear." But some believe the pair is taking creative liberty too far.
For instance, Angelina Lazo, a survivor of the tragic Parkland school shooting in the state of Florida, stated, "I lived through this... To make money off of something pathetic like this is disgusting. You don’t even know how it is to live every day with reminders everywhere you go." The Vicki Soto Memorial Fund, a fund established in memory of Soto, a teacher among the 20 victims killed in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 affirmed in a post uploaded to social media platform Twitter: This is just absolutely horrific. A company is [making] light of our pain and others' pain for fashion. Selling sweatshirts with our name and bullet holes. Unbelievable.
You don't have to monetize a tragedy to remember.— Rachel McKibbens (@RachelMcKibbens) September 18, 2019
As a survivor of gun violence, I disagree and find these sweatshirts helpful. The message: WE WILL NOT FORGET.— evelynaugusto2012 (@evelynaugusto25) September 18, 2019
Wearing the reminders of our terrible loss, of the series of mass shootings keeps the need for a solution to this epidemic of gun violence current. #poetsout
This is not the first time a fashion brand has received backlash for politically-inclined clothing. A few years ago, Urban Outfitters came under fire for selling a similar sweatshirt featuring blood splatters. The sweatshirt read Kent State University, yet another educational institution where a tragic mass shooting took place. It appears that Bstroy did not learn their lesson from their competitors' mistakes. Nevertheless, the debate is ongoing, as individuals from both sides generate much-needed conversation and have heated discussions about the viral sweatshirts, gun violence, and gun legislation on social media.
You're upset at a sweatshirt when you should be upset at politicians selling their souls to the NRA to keep weapons of war too-easily accessible.— Beauner (@mylifeisbeau) September 18, 2019
Personally I think they are a brilliant commentary on our governments in action. I want them sent to every single senator, we should all wear them and march on the Capitol and not disperse until something is done on gun violence. I am angry that school shoots happen all the time.— WilliamBrandonWomack (@WBWomack) September 18, 2019
They say their work is "ironic." They don't know what the word means. "Horrific" defines their work, making money off of the pain of others.— Darth Teena (@Darth_Teena) September 18, 2019