When Fashion Meets Historical Controversy

Here is an article that I have written and that has been published by Keele University’s Concourse Magazine about a “fashionable” jumper that appears to reference the events at Kent State University in the most insensitive manner.

I’ve always thought of myself as sometimes being a bit “out there” when it comes to my fashion – sometimes this has been my complete downfall! But I have always looked at latest trends and considered if I could pull them off. One new trend that I certainly will not be following has come from the popular high-street shop, Urban Outfitters, who have designed a jumper that could make even the wildest fashionistas reel!

UO have released a jumper for sale emblazoned with “Kent State University” with the university logo. This vintage jumper appears to be tinged with bloodstains and contains a few small holes. The popular high street shop however, have claimed that it is not a reference to the tragic school-shootings that occurred in Ohio in 1970, but that the jumper is just a distressed design that is made to look “vintage”. Although UO have dismissed their clothing’s relevance to the events of 1970, the item still seems to be in bad-taste.

The Vietnam War split the American population entirely and led to numerous protests across the country; a famous one being at Kent State University. Students of the University had been protesting for 3-days on campus grounds against America’s involvement in Vietnam. It was on this third day that National Guardsmen, who trying to keep the protest peaceful, were ordered to open fire on the students; an order that they shockingly carried out. These terrible shootings led to 4 students being killed and 9 being left wounded and in hospital. This was a terrible event in American history that should be remembered with pride for those brave students who were willing to stand up for what they believed in. However, UO appears to be addressing this event with too much nonchalance.

UO have released a statement to say that the jumper is of a vintage-style and therefore has been made to look distressed. The design includes the red-splatter stains across the front of the jumper, supposedly reminiscent of sun damage, and also small holes, not to be confused with bullet holes, apparently. I am unsure as to whether this item has just been greatly misjudged as to how offensive it is or simply the company’s pure ignorance to any historical matter. The jumper went on sale last Sunday, September 21st, and, by the following day, was quickly removed due to the uproar. UO were swift to remove the item from their website but the fact still stands that this jumper was designed in the first place.

Fashion is supposed to be a statement, but that does not mean it should be oblivious to the world around it. The idea of controversial fashion should encompass outfits such as Lady Gaga’s eccentric meat dress or Katy Perry’s carousel dress. It should not encroach on sensitive subjects such as the death and injury of university students who ironically wanted peace. We want to see fashion that represents individuality, not ignorance. So make a statement with your clothing, whether that is political, feminist or any other stance- just make sure you take into account the affect it can have on others. Wearing a jumper that represents the death of innocents isn’t a declaration, it’s just unnecessary.

This article can be found on Keele Concourse’s Website at; http://www.concourseonline.com/lauren-haines/when-fashion-meets-historical-controversy/

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