A men's clothing brand is facing backlash after showing off a line of school shooting-themed shirts in its Spring 2020 collection. The hoody selection includes shirts bearing the names "Sandy Hook," "Columbine," "Virginia Tech," and "Stoneman Douglas" — and each is complete with small, distressed holes appearing to replicate bullet holes.
What are the details?
Atlanta-based fashion house BStroy, which specializes in "neo-native" menswear, showed off its latest designs on Instagram on Sunday. The company posted several pictures of models donning the brand's new collection while strutting the runway during New York Fashion Week.
Followers were quick to rebuke BStroy for trying to profit off of tragedies. On the photo depicting a model wearing a "Sandy Hook" shirt, one woman wrote, "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."
Another commenter wrote, "There are so many ways to use fashion and clothing to make sociopolitical commentary — this isn't it. How do you think the parents who saw their children's clothing with bullet holes through them feel seeing this? Comforted? Empowered?"
How did the company respond?
BStroy was co-founded by Brick Owens and Dieter Grams, who both made public comments on their new line.
The Independent reported that Owens wrote an Instagram post about the collection, saying, "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. We are reminded all the time of life's fragility, shortness and unpredictability yet we are also reminded of its infinite potential."
Grams told NBC News, "At Bstroy we have always used our platform to shed light and begin conversations on overlooked issues from reality. 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."
"Art's job is to wring emotion out," Grams added.