The internet is all abuzz about Urban Outfitter’s product listing for a vintage Kent State sweatshirt. Soonafter news broke, site after site (and social account after social account) referred to the shirt as being decorated with a “blood splatter-like pattern”, and they can’t help but think it’s a reference to the Kent State Massacre in 1970.
I can see where one might be quick to judge. Look at the screenshot of the product page, which has since been removed:
Urban Outfitters has since apologized for even listing the shirt it says it purchased with a collection of sun-faded clothing and that “We deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively.”
Even Kent State is ticked about the listing, and I understand. Heck, when I first saw the listing my first thought was, “Did anyone think to run a search as to why someone might decorate a shirt this way?” Surely a company the size of Urban Outfitters takes time to research what it plans to post, and it reminded me that smaller businesses have less money and less people, yet still find ways to not post outrageously insulting content.
But let’s take a closer look of the product in question.
And, a little closer:
And, finally, an image of what the shirt likely looked like new:
We all know that a picture tells a thousand words. At first glance, without looking very closely, you see blood. I have to wonder, though, when holding the shirt in one’s hands, what was actually seen? I can imagine a heavily faded fabric with some of the original coloring showing through holes.
This doesn’t mean Urban Outfitters is without blame. The real issue lies with whoever was responsible for processing the images and approving the post of the product’s page. Even the company can’t argue that in the photos at the displayed sizes, those holes look like blood.
Let this be a few lessons to all responsible for pushing content to the web, especially those responsible for graphics and final approval. You need more than one set of eyes. You need to realize that the photograph of an item may appear quite differently than the item itself. Finally, that perception is everything.