An avant-garde fashion brand has received significant criticism for designs they presented at a show in New York over the weekend.
In a series of images posted to their Instagram on Monday, the label Bstroy highlighted a series of hooded sweatshirts featuring the names of schools that are well known as the sites of some of the deadliest mass shootings in American history. To further bring the point home – and there is a point, they say – the sweatshirts, emblazoned with the names Columbine, Sandy Hook and Stoneman Douglas, were tattered with bullet-like holes.
If the two men behind the brand, Brick Owens and Dieter Grams, were looking to draw attention to their work through controversy, it certainly worked.
Angelina Lazo, a survivor of Parkland, Florida, school shooting, was among the many whose lives have been touched by the American gun epidemic, who levied a sharp rebuke to the designs.
“I lived through this … to make money off of something pathetic like this is disgusting,” she wrote in part. “You don’t even know how it is to live everyday with reminders everywhere you go.”
The Vicki Soto Memorial Fund also commented:
This is just absolutely horrific. A company is make light of our pain and other’s pain for fashion. Selling sweatshirts with our name and bullet holes. Unbelievable.
These School Shooting Hoodies Receive Major Twitter Backlash – PAPER https://t.co/DovuEeRaqM
— Team Vicki Soto (@TeamVickiSoto) September 17, 2019
Soto was a teacher among the 20 killed in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.
“Under what scenario could somebody think this was a good idea?” tweeted Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed in Parkland.
Under what scenario could somebody think this was a good idea? This has me so upset. If any of my followers no anybody involved with this clothing line, please ask them to stop it immediately.https://t.co/VzAlog0TCt
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) September 17, 2019
Owens responded to the backlash shortly thereafter with a post 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,” the printed statement read. “We are reminded all the time of life’s fragility, shortness, and unpredictability yet we are also reminded of its infinite potential.”
“We are making violent statements,” Grams, known as Du, told the New York Times in a profile of the brand from last week. “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.”
The Times wrote: “Each Bstroy collection is a blend of high-concept pieces and sly tweaks to more conventional forms, like graphic T-shirts that nod to preppy interests like tennis and fencing, but with the sports gear replaced by guns,.”
Owens told NBC’s Today Show via email: “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.”
In 2014 Urban Outfitters stirred a similar controversy when they sold, then pulled, a Kent State sweatshirt made to look as if it were spattered with blood.
According to the group Everytown For Gun Safety, 100 Americans are killed by guns every day and hundreds more are injured.