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Why Urban Outfitters retails controversial products




Pedestrians pass in front of 'Urban Outfitters' on 6th Ave. and 14th street in Manhattan.
Pedestrians pass in front of 'Urban Outfitters' on 6th Ave. and 14th street in Manhattan.
Scott Eells/Getty Images

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Urban Outfitters found itself in a bit of controversy this week when it offered a $129-vintage Kent State University sweatshirt that had the appearance of blood stains.

Critics said it was an unfortunate reminder of the Kent State protests in 1970 that resulted in the deaths of four students. Urban Outfitters apologized and took the item off its shelves.

"The company claimed that it was totally an honest mistake and that the fading on the shirt was a result of this vintage garment and that it was not intended to look like blood or anything else," says Sapna Maheshwari, business reporter for Buzzfeed. "A lot of people didn't really buy that explanation."

That's probably because this is not the first time people have been offended by products at Urban Outfitters.

"Back in 2012, they brought on an old executive to be the head of the Urban Outfitters brand, and they were worried they weren't edgy enough... Since then, we've seen a lot of these controversies pop up," Maheshwari says.

Some questionable products of past include:

The controversies, Maheshwari says, are an effort to bring attention to the company, but "interestingly enough, sales haven't been increasing for the past three quarters, so you kind of have to wonder if it's working."