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The Ethical Consideration Behind Clothing Evoking Violent Acts

The Thread

In recent years the sale of vintage and production of clothing related to Mass shooting events has been rising as of recent years to the dismay of many. Freedom of expression and creativity have always been a part of the conversation relating to the allure and mystique of these items. Critics argue that commodifying mass shootings through merchandise and vintage clothing is highly disrespectful to the victims and their families. They believe that such products trivialize the gravity of the events and contribute to a culture that glorifies violence. The concern is that these items may be viewed as fashion statements rather than reminders of a horrific tragedy.

Bstroy – 2019

In 2019 to the disgust of many, the fashion label Bstroy posted sweatshirts on Instagram referencing schools such as Sandy Hook and Columbine. These sweatshirts featured a big spell out of the school across the front chest while also being riddled with what one can only assume are bullet holes. Not only is this insensitive but it is also dishonorable, making money and producing items that mock these mass shootings is not illegal but it is undoubtably immoral.

Angelina Lazo, a survivor of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, was among the many students whose lives have been forever changed by the American gun epidemic, had this to say when seeing the sweatshirts

“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.”

In response to all the backlash Bstroy released a statement commenting on the issue,

“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.”

This is also not the first time a brand has used a morbid event like a school shooting in designs for a fashion line. Urban Outfitters is also guilty of this, in 2014 UO sold a “Vintage” blood-splattered Kent State sweatshirt, referencing the 1970 shooting that left four students dead. The company quickly apologized and wiped any history of the sweatshirt from all their pages. Brands such as FTP and Avant-Garde have also featured COLUMBINE and other morbid events in their production.

Vintage from these events

Vintage pieces such as crewnecks and sweatshirts from these events sell at outrageous prices, with hoodie’s from Columbine regularly reaching the 150-250$ mark and hats 500+, along with rarer items reaching even higher sale points. eyond the ethical considerations, the profit-driven nature of this market has drawn criticism. Detractors argue that businesses capitalizing on mass shootings are engaging in morally questionable practices. By profiting from these items, they may be seen as exploiting consumers’ emotions and perpetuating a questionable industry. The concern is that such sales could encourage the demand for similar products associated with other tragic events, further blurring the lines between commemoration and commercialization.

However, proponents argue for the importance of preserving historical artifacts and promoting freedom of expression. They contend that vintage clothing and associated memorabilia allow for the documentation of history and the exploration of societal issues. They maintain that individuals should have the right to engage with and own such items without necessarily condoning the actions that occurred.

While the ethical implications of these sales will forever be questioned, their value continues to soar. Striking a balance between preserving historical artifacts and avoiding exploitation requires thoughtful consideration. Given the growth in the space, this may be a question for the next generation of vintage enthusiasts to examine.

Written by Sammy Aronoff

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