Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Outrage After Fashion Brand Creates School Shooting-Inspired Hoodies

A fashion brand has faced a backlash after showcasing a range of hoodies with holes in baring the names of schools that fell victim to shooting massacres. Bstroy - co-founded by Brick Owens and Dieter Grams - shared a series of pictures on Instagram of models wearing the clothing, which is emblazoned with the likes of 'Columbine', 'Virginia Tech', 'Stoneman Douglas', and 'Sandy Hook'.

While the label hasn't expressly said the holes are supposed to represent bullet holes, it is an obvious connection to make, with 13 people shot dead at Colorado's Columbine in 1999, 32 killed in Blacksburg's Virginia shooting in 2007, 27 killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, and 17 killed at Florida's Stoneman Douglas High School.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many people seemed unimpressed by the designs. Commenting on Instagram, one person said: "Profiting off of tragedy. The dudes who are gonna wearing this hoodie aren't activists who wanna spread awareness. They're just tryna flex. It's all materialism, no activism." Another, who claimed to be a victim of one of the shootings, said she was 'appalled' by the design. She said: "As a victim of Columbine, I am appalled. This is disgusting. You can draw awareness another way but don't you dare make money off of our tragedy."

The label responded to the criticism in a subsequent note shared on Instagram. It read: "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. It is this push and pull that creates the circular motion that is the cycle of life.

"Nirvana is the goal we hope to reach through meditation and healthy practices that counter our destructive habits. Samsara is the cycle we must transcend to reach Nirvana." However, many people evidently weren't impressed with the justification. One person said: "Children being mercilessly murdered in their classrooms isn't a 'journey of the soul'. Family members of the victims of these shootings have expressed the pain they felt over this collection. Their voices matter more than whatever pseudo-spiritual message you *thought* you were making."

In a statement sent to TIME, co-founder Grams said: "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."

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