Trigger warning: They're adorned with names of famous school shootings and distressed details to resemble bullet holes.
Welcome to our column, "Hey, Quick Question," where we investigate seemingly random happenings in the fashion and beauty industries. Enjoy!
A certain streetwear brand's Spring 2020 collection is making waves on the internet for an extremely controversial source of inspiration, resulting in hoodies that are — trigger warning — adorned with names of famous school shootings; specifically, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Stoneman Douglas and Columbine, along with distressed details meant to resemble bullet holes.
Designers Brick Owens and Duey Catorze of Bstroy, debuted the garments during a runway show in New York. After posting the collection's images on Instagram, viewers have been leaving a slew of comments to express their disappointment. "Making money off tragedy," said one user, while others defended the designers' work with, "Change is born out of controversy and dialogue. Current gun control discussions aren't working so you gotta turn the heat up."
The hoodies were part of Bstroy's "Samsara" collection: "Sometimes life can be painfully ironic. Like the irony of dying violently in a place you consider to be a safe, controlled environment, like school," said the brand's show notes. "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."
Bstroy was recently featured in The New York Times as part of haute streetwear's next generation. The duo, who are both in their late 20s, met in high school while growing up in Atlanta. They launched their brand in 2012, had their first fashion show the following year in an (unauthorized) Atlanta subway station and moved to New York in 2015.
"We are making violent statements," said 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."
But is this the type of "violent" statement that had to be made to garner this type of attention towards gun violence? Of course, fashion is political and can be used to bring major issues to everyone's attention, but we're not exactly sure if these distressed hoodies are exemplary of that. Are the the profits of these hoodies — which could potentially cost up to $210, based on Bstroy's current inventory for sale — helping to benefit the families who are connected to the subject matters of these hoodies? Were Owens and Catorze aware of the potential backlash as a result of their latest collection? Most of all, what were they thinking?!
Obviously, we have a lot of questions, and who knows if we'll have any answers. Until then, you can turn your attention (and dollars) to meaningful organizations like Everytown for Gun Safety instead.