Streetwear brand faces backlash over school shooting-themed sweatshirts
© Bstroy/Instagram

A New York-based streetwear brand is facing backlash after debuting a series of school shooting-themed sweatshirts as part of its new collection.

Bstroy’s spring 2020 collection, unveiled earlier this week at a fashion show, features several sweatshirts embroidered with the names of schools where deadly shootings were carried out: Columbine, Sandy Hook, Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Virginia Tech.

Each sweatshirt looks distressed and has several circular cutouts that resemble bullet holes.

A day after posting photos of the garments on its Instagram page, Bstory garnered widespread criticism over the designs, with survivors of the massacres and other social media users criticizing the brand for a lack of sensitivity toward school shootings.

“I would just like to say, what actual the hell is wrong with you. goddamn monetizing off a school shooting. disgusting,” wrote Kyle Kashuv, who survived the 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Another apparent Parkland survivor commented: “My dead classmates dying should not be a f---ing fashion statement.”

The Vicki Soto Memorial Fund, formed in honor of a teacher killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, also weighed in on the sweatshirts, writing in an Instagram comment that “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,” the organization wrote. “Our pain is not to be used for your fashion.”

Hundreds of other social media users blasted the company for the sweatshirts.

“There are so many ways to use fashion and clothing to make sociopolitical commentary—this isn’t it,” one wrote. “How do you think the parents who saw their children’s clothing with bullet holes through them feel seeing this? Comforted? Empowered? As if we are on the precipice of change? I doubt all of the above.”

A note posted to Instagram by Bstroy founder Brick Owens on Monday  explained that the sweatshirts were part of the brand's "Samsara" 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,” the statement read. “We are reminded all the time of life’s fragility, shortness, and unpredictability yet we are also reminded of its infinite potential.”

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