Mass School Shooting, but Make It Fashion
A streetwear brand uses school shootings to make a statement, but is anyone buying it?
This year's New York Fashion Week was mostly a peaceful parade of beautiful and interesting clothes. Mostly.
Bstroy, a highly acclaimed streetwear brand's Spring 2020 collection is making waves, but not for the reasons fashion brands usually do. Brick Owens and Duey Catorze of Bstroy decided that along with the typical sweats and tees, they would share sweatshirts bearing the names of four mass school shootings, including Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, and Stoneman Douglass.
The hoodies also feature bullet holes... for effect.
All you would have to do is look through comments on Bstroy's Instagram to see how well these hoodies were received, including comments such as:
"Elementary school kids died... tf wrong with y’all."
"Super wack is it supposed to be cool to wear the location of a school shooting on ur distressed hoodie."
"Making money off tragedy."
"You thought this was controversial and thought provoking didn't you..."
"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? As if we are on the precipice of change? I doubt all of the above. Being 'edgy,' 'turning up the heat,' or 'starting a conversation' are also things you can leave un-checked on your list of KPIs. There is nothing 'painfully ironic' about this, or the slew of other hoodies you designed with the same lackluster train of thought in mind. Fashion being recognized as a legitimate medium of cultural commentary is stunted by the likes of this. And one last thing... what percentage of your profits from this collection went to victims or gun control efforts? My bet is little to none."
"Profiting off of tragedy. The dudes who are gonna wearing this hoodie aren’t activists who wanna spread awareness. They’re just tryna flex. It’s all materialism, no activism."
The notes continue, "We are reminded all the time of life's fragility, shortness, and unpredictability, yet we are also reminded of its infinite potential. It is this push and pull that creates the circular motion that is the cycle of life. Nirvana is the goal we hope to reach through meditation and healthy practices that counter our destructive baits. Samsara is the cycle we must transcend to reach Nirvana."
"We are making violent statements," said co-founder Duey Catorze to The New York Times. "That's for you to know who we are, so we can have a voice in the market. But eventually, that voice will say things that everyone can wear."
Meanwhile, the rest of us are left wondering; Is this the type of "violent" statement that had to be made to garner this type of attention towards gun violence?
While I fully acknowledge the political nature of how fashion can be used to bring major issues to everyone's attention, I know that distressed and bullet burned hoodies are not the way to go. Is there a point to these beyond mere shock value and sick profit, profits from a $210 hoodie, based on Bstroy's current inventory for sale, that could benefit families who are connected to the schools on these hoodies? Like the commenter above, I highly doubt it.
I'll pass on this poorly thought out sweatshirt, and in the meantime say to let your dollars go to benefit causes that actually are working to stop gun violence.