Hoodies are typically the comfort go-to pieces in your wardrobe. What leggings are for legs, hoodies are for bodies. Feeling sad? Wrap yourself in a hoodie. Feeling bloated? Grab a hoodie. Time to Netflix and binge watch 20 episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale? Hoodie.
But there is nothing warm and cozy about these hoodies that hit the runway at New York Fashion Week.
BStroy, a self-proclaimed “Neo-Native Menswear Design House,” debuted the bullet-riddled hoodies bearing the names “Columbine,” “Sandy Hook,” “Virginia Tech,” and “Stoneman Douglas,” as part of their Spring 2020 Collection. And all we can say is, “What the hell were they thinking?”
One of the company’s founders, Brick Owens, released a statement on Instagram about the inspiration behind the “SAMSARA” collection. He wrote in part:
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.
In addition, Owens also told TODAY Style that he and fellow designer, Duey Catorze, wanted to make a statement about gun violence:
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.
Owens’ partner, Dieter “Du” Grams, told the NY Times, “We are making violent statements. That’s for you to know who we are, so we can have a voice in the market.”
And a voice they have. Loud and clear. But it is one that the majority of people would like silenced. The backlash has been swift and scathing.
Comments have flooded in on Instagram, including those made by families and fellow students directly affected by the shooting tragedies.
My dead classmates dying should not be a fucking fashion statement
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 only myself but with thousands of other people who have experienced gun violence… this is disgusting
I lost my niece in Parkland from bullet holes in her. My 14 year teenage son has had to live through trying to understand why his favorite cousin is dead from Parkland. This is disgusting on so many levels. You are taking advantage of my dead niece for your own profit. Shame on you.
I’m a parent from parkland – I found your page not to follow but to simply say…. how dare you. This is so disturbing …. my friends lost their children. You should be ashamed of yourself. This is not fashion ~ This is simply evil profit
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.
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.
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.
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was one of the victims at Stoneman Douglas School in Parkland, Florida, tweeted:
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
Other commenters took the opportunity to rally for stricter gun control measures.
Anyone who hates in the comments better fuckin vote for better legislation on our country.
This is offensive? Good cause your country kills itself and I don’t see y’all out protesting yet.
I hope all the people in the comments that are upset, are upset enough to talk to their elected officials about serious gun control measures.
This SHOULD enrage people. This SHOULD spark conversation. This is what art and fashion are all about. The problem here isn’t the hoodies, it’s the fact that we have enough school shootings to make an entire fashion collection of them. Seeing these hoodies & reactions shows how much pain there still is and how, as a country, we still have done NOTHING to stop these senseless (and all too frequent) shooting.
For all the outraged folks: the company isn’t planning on selling the hoodies, so before making statements regarding distribution and profits, please check your sources. The company wanted to elicit outrage about the issue of gun violence in America, and that’s what they have done. We should use the outrage that we feel about these hoodies and turn it into constructive, organized efforts to mobilize our communities and vote for representation that will work to implement strict gun control laws.
Initially BStroy created the sweatshirts as an “art” piece for the fashion show. Now, thanks to all of the attention they are garnering, the company is considering bringing them to market. Their hoodies typically retail between $250 and $410.
In the past 20 years there have been an estimated 239 school shootings in the United States, according to data from the Washington Post. Two hundred and thirty-nine. And this number doesn’t depict college or university shootings. More than 228,000 children have been exposed to gun violence in their school since the Columbine High massacre in 1999, which resulted in the deaths of 12 students and 1 teacher.
In 2007, 32 people were killed at Virginia Tech. 26 people were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. And in 2018? 17 people lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
While raising awareness of the gun control epidemic in the US is admirable, turning tragedies into fashion statements is not. Bstroy, you need to do better.