Streetwear brand debuts school shooting hoodies with bullet holes


Bstroy/Instagram

Bstroy, a New York-based streetwear brand, hosted a show during New York Fashion Week to debut its spring 2020 collection. Included in the show were four sweatshirts emblazoned with the names of school shooting sites Sandy Hook, Columbine, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and Virginia Tech. The sweatshirts are distressed and have what appear to be bullet holes, which leave no doubt as to why these school names were chosen and what they have in common.

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As you can imagine, the reaction has been overwhelmingly negative. The designers behind the brand, Brick Owens and Duey Catorze, did not originally create the sweatshirts with any intent to sell them. They considered them more of a commentary on gun violence and "the irony of dying violently in a place you consider to be a safe, controlled environment, like school." The crazy thing is that now that the sweatshirts have gotten so much attention, Brick Owens told Today Style that the brand is considering selling them.

But who would want to wear these things?

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting happened on December 14, 2012.

It claimed the lives of 26 people, including 20 children. One of the comments on this post of the sweatshirts was made by an Instagram account honoring Vicki Soto, a teacher killed in the shooting. It reads:

"As a Sandy Hook family, what you are doing here is absolutely disgusting, hurtful, wrong and disrespectful. You’ll never know what our family went through after Vicki died protecting her students. Our pain is not to be used for your fashion."

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The Columbine High School shooting happened on April 20,1999.

On that day, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 students and one teacher before killing themselves.

"So glad my brother being shot in the head at Columbine inspired your super edgy hoodies. Fucking classy. I’m sure you’re really going places," commented @girlnamedgreen on this particular sweatshirt.

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The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting happened on February 14, 2018.

It claimed the lives of 17 people, and 17 more were injured.

"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 everyday with reminders everywhere you go.. there’s so much trauma with no[t] only myself but with thousands of other people who have experienced gun violence... this is disgusting," commented @angelina_theboss in reaction to this hoodie.

The Virginia Tech shooting happened on April 16, 2007.

It claimed the lives of 33 people.

"As a medic who treated actual Virginia Tech students with actual bullet holes in their clothes and bodies; this is absolutely inappropriate, wrong, and disgusting. Murder is not a fashion statement," commented @swalker523 in reaction to this post.

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If the sweatshirts weren't originally created to sell, what's the point?

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SAMSARA

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"Sometimes life can be painfully ironic. Like the irony of dying violently in a place you consider to be a safe, controlled environment, like school," posted Owens on Instagram. "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 baits. Samsara is the cycle we must transcend to reach Nirvana."

OK, but that message still leaves us scratching our heads and asking why include these sweatshirts in a fashion show alongside clothes that were designed to be sold? Why not give them their own show that shows them in context and not like something you can just buy off the rack to wear around?

In an email, Owens explained to Today Style that he and Catorze were trying to make a bold statement with the collection: "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."

Not sure how exactly the survivors are being empowered by these hoodies, since the reactions we've seen from them have not been positive. Perhaps they could have been consulted during the process.

"Also built into the device is the fact that our image as young, black males has not been traditionally awarded credit for introducing avant-garde ideas. So many people have assumed our message to be lazy just because of what they’ve been taught about black men. These hoodies were made with all of these intentions in mind, and to explore all of these societal issues. Not just the surface layer of gun violence in schools but also the different ways that we relate to each other and the dated ideas that still shape the assumptions we make about each other," Owens wrote.

In a crazy twist to the backlash they have received, now the brand is considering selling the hoodies that were never intended to be sold in the first place. If they do sell those hoodies, they best be donating profits from the sales to victims or gun control efforts, because profiting off school shootings is just wrong.

Topics: controversy  crazy fashion