Models strutted the runway during a fashion show in New York in September 2019 sporting fashion based on a school-shooting theme.
The first model showing off clothes in this theme was a male model who was wearing: a pair of white-and-gold sneakers, khakis, and a sweater with the hood drawn over his head. The sweater was sprinkled with holes that appeared as bullet holes and had ‘Columbine’ embroidered in white letters across the center.
After this model, there came three other models wearing similar outfits. Each with sweaters sprinkled with tattered holes and the name of a school that suffered one of the deadliest school-shootings in U.S. history.
The sweatshirts, designed by Bstroy, referenced the shootings at: Columbine High School in 1999 where 13 people were killed, Virginia Tech where 32 people were killed in 2007, Sandy Hook Elementary School where 26 people were killed in 2012, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 where 17 people were killed.
The brand’s co-founder, Brick Owens, posted pictures of these sweatshirts on Instagram, only to draw a lot of attention and diverse comments a few days later.
“[I wanted to] make a comment on gun violence…while also empowering the survivors or tragedy.” Owens explains.
On the other hand, the Vicki Soto Memorial Fund, an organization managed by a family of a teacher who died in the Sandy Hook shooting, went on to say that the fashion show was absolutely horrific. the organization then continued to tweet, “A company is mak[ing] light on our pain and other’s pain for fashion.”
These sweaters are not the only items that this brand has sold. In the past, they have sold t-shirts covered in firearms. Bstroy has also sold crewnecks, where instead of foils and bows, fencing teams and archers are armed with assault rifles. Originally the sweaters in the fashion show were not up for sale. But, after receiving a lot of attention, Bstroy considered selling them.
Bstroy was not, however, the first company to benefit financially from selling items related to school shootings. Urban Outfitters was. In 2014, Urban Outfitters was ridiculed for selling a Kent State University sweater that appeared to have been splattered with blood. Many thought that the sweater referenced the Ohio National Guard shooting and killing four students in addition to injuring nine others in 1970.
Overall, victims and their families ordered for this fashion line to be shelved and for the company to apologize.
“Under what scenario could somebody think this was a good idea?” tweeted Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter died in the Stoneman Douglas shooting. “This has me so upset.”