NYC brand Bstroy shocks the world with hoodies of school shootings
By Fatima Shaheen Niazi
Many a times fashion brands come up with ideas that challenge social norms or aim to bring to light issues designers feels strongly about. The runway is also often used to express opinions in an artistic and imaginative way. However, the recent presentation by the New York brand Bstroy failed to accomplish any of the above mentioned goals with their 2020 menswear collection based on school shootings that have shaken America to the core.
In a series of images posted to their Instagram, the label Bstroy introduced hooded sweatshirts featuring the names of schools that are known sites of the deadliest mass shootings in American history. The sweatshirts in colours such as grey, blue and green had the names Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia tech and Stoneman Douglas inscribed on them. Now here is the shocking part – the hoodies were tattered with bullet holes to signify all the victims that were shot dead. Talk about sadistic!
As soon as the images were posted, the brand faced backlash from Instagram users who called them out for being tasteless. Others also called the new fashion line “unthical” and accused the brand of making “profits off the dead”.
Another agitated Instagram user stated: “I lived through this. To make money off of something pathetic like this is disgusting. You don’t even know how it is to live every day with reminders everywhere you go.”
The two men behind the brand, Brick Owens and Dieter Grams however, had a different opinion on the controversy. Owens responded to the backlash with a post to Instagram stating:
“Sometimes life can be painfully ironic. Like the irony of dying violently in a place you considered 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.”
In another statement to the NBC’s Today show, he had stated Bstroy was simply trying to make a statement against gun violence and wanted to empower the survivors of the tragedy by telling their stories through clothes.
Grams on the other hand, had mentioned in his New York Times profile published recently that they were aiming to make violent statement and all they were looking for was a voice in the market. “But eventually that voice will say things that everyone can wear,” Grams concluded.
No matter what the aim of the designers was, the clothing line does not seem to be sitting well with the survivors of school shootings or those who have lost friends and family to the violence by a twisted few.
Is it right for the brand to insist their hoodies were for the benefit of those who lost their lives when the ones affected by the tragedy find the clothing line offensive? Most important, why the designers believe they know more about the tragedy than the ones who lost a family member in the school shootings? Its high time media influencers focused more on being empathic rather with the messages they put across to the public.
About the shootings
The Columbine High School massacre was a school shooting and attempted bombing that occurred on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in the United States. The perpetrators were twelfth grade students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold who murdered 12 students and one teacher, before committing suicide. 21 people were also injured.
The Virginia Tech school shooting occurred on April 16, 2007, at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. An undergraduate student at the university shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others with two semi-automatic pistols. Six others were injured jumping out of windows to escape. The perpetrator Cho committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred on December 14, 2012, in Connecticut, where 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children between six and seven years old, and six staff members. As police arrived, Lanza committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
On February 14, 2018, Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old expelled student opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, killing 17 people and injuring 17 others. The gunman was later arrested.