(ABC NEWS) – A New York clothing company has introduced school shooting hoodies that have bullet holes in them and feature the names of four schools where nearly 100 students were shot to death, including Sandy Hook, Columbine, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and Virginia Tech.
Bstroy, a self-described “neo-native” post-apocalypse streetwear brand, according to Paper Magazine, has been slammed with comments — of both support and disgust — after showcasing their Spring 2020 menswear collection called “Samsara” in a series of posts on Instagram.
“Under what scenario could somebody think this was a good idea? This has me so upset. If any of my followers no [sic] anybody involved with this clothing line, please ask them to stop it immediately,” tweeted Fred Guttenberg whose daughter Jaime was killed in 2018 by Nikolas Cruz in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting.
A memorial page for Vicki Soto, one of the teachers killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting responded directly to the Instagram post of the Sandy Hook hoodie saying “As a Sandy Hook family, what you are doing here is absolutely disgusting, hurtful, wrong and disrespectful. You’ll never know what our family went through after Vicki died protecting her students. Our pain is not to be used for your fashion.”
“This is disgusting,” actress Alyssa Milano simply tweeted.
One of the company’s founders, Brick Owens, responded to the critics by releasing a statement on Instagram.
“Sometimes life can be painfully ironic,” the statement read. Like the irony of dying violently in a place you consider 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. 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 habits. Samsara is the cycle we must transcend to reach Nirvana.”
While the vast majority of responses to the clothing line were negative, there were some who thought the company was doing their best to bring awareness to the issue of gun violence in America.
“I hope all the people in the comments that are upset, are upset enough to talk to their elected officials about serious gun control measures,” said Instagram user @magnetic_poles.
“This SHOULD enrage people. This SHOULD spark conversation. This is what art and fashion are all about. The problem here isn’t the hoodies, it’s the fact that we have enough school shootings to make an entire fashion collection of them. Seeing these hoodies & reactions shows how much pain there still is and how, as a country, we still have done NOTHING to stop these senseless (and all too frequent) shooting,” @jillvaccaro said on Instagram.
“We are making violent statements,” the other founder of Bstroy, Dieter “Du” Grams told The New York Times in a profile that was published last week. “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.”
Bstory has not immediately responded to ABC News’ request for comment Wednesday morning.
Owens reportedly told NBC News, however, that Bstroy “wanted to make a comment on gun violence and the type of gun violence that needs preventative attention and what its origins are, while also empowering the survivors of tragedy through storytelling in the clothes.”
Whether or not this polarizing strategy is successful for Bstroy, however, is yet to be seen.
Wrote @girlnamedgreen on Instagram: “As a victim of Columbine, I am appalled. This is disgusting. You can draw awareness another way but don’t you dare make money off of our tragedy.”