Fashion brand faces backlash for school shooting-themed sweatshirts

By Sophie Lewis

/ CBS News

Families talk about toll of mass shootings

A New York-based fashion brand is facing backlash on social media following its most recent fashion show. During New York Fashion Week, Bstroy debuted a series of bullet-ridden school sweatshirts in their spring/summer 2020 show.

The menswear line unveiled several school shooting-themed hoodies in the show, featuring Columbine, Sandy Hook Elementary, Virginia Tech and Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Each sweatshirt featured distressed detailing resembling bullet holes.

All four schools have seen mass shootings over the last two decades, resulting in the deaths of nearly 100 people.

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Bstroy Season 5 SS20 SAMSARA. Photography : @nateshuls @kusumadjaja

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While some have praised designers Brick Owens and Duey Catorze for calling attention to the issue of gun violence, others have accused the duo of attempting to profit from tragedy.

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"Under what scenario could somebody think this was a good idea?" Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed in shooting in Parkland, tweeted. "This has me so upset. If any of my followers no anybody involved with this clothing line, please ask them to stop it immediately."

"This is disgusting," Alyssa Milano tweeted.

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Bstroy Season 5 SS20 SAMSARA. Photography : @nateshuls @kusumadjaja

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Apparent survivors of the massacres were outraged and posted comments to the brand's Instagram account.

"As a Sandy Hook family, what you are doing here is absolutely disgusting, hurtful, wrong and disrespectful," The memorial page for Vicki Soto, a teacher who was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting, wrote. "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."

"I lived through this … to make money off of something pathetic like this is disgusting," Angelina Lazo, a survivor of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas wrote. "You don't even know how it is to live everyday with reminders everywhere you go.. there's so much trauma with no only myself but with thousands of other people who have experienced gun violence… this is disgusting."

"As a victim of Columbine, I am appalled," another commenter wrote. "This is disgusting. You can draw awareness another way but don't you dare make money off of our tragedy."

Owens responded to the criticism with an Instagram explaining the inspiration behind the collection.

"Sometimes life can be painfully ironic," Owens wrote. "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."

This is not the first time a brand has used school shootings in a fashion line. In 2014, Urban Outfitters apologized for selling a "vintage" blood-stained Kent State sweatshirt, referencing the 1970 shooting on the college campus. The company ultimately pulled the piece from the site.

First published on September 17, 2019 / 10:08 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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