There’s doing “something” about mass school shootings and then there’s whatever the fuck this is.
Bstroy, an Atlanta-based streetwear fashion brand that I’ve never heard of until this morning because that’s how these things work, posted their Fashion Week offerings on Instagram on Monday, which included four images of models in hoodies featuring the names of mass school shootings where real people died.
The four hoodies posted on social media have the school names “Stoneman Douglas,” “Columbine,” “Sandy Hook,” and “Virginia Tech” emblazoned across the front and also feature artful holes, presumably bullet holes, curated across the school logos. The multi-colored commodification of school shootings. How meaningful.
I feel certain that, when young people began asking social media to politicize their deaths if they died in a mass school shooting, this is not what they meant. They wanted people to, say, bring attention to the avoidable deaths of children and young adults whose lives were just beginning, and hell, maybe get their elected officials to do more than a thoughts-and-prayers tweet.
The duo behind the brand, Brick Owens and Dieter “Du” Grams, didn’t return Paper magazine’s request for comment. (I’ve also reached out to the designers for comment and will update this post if they respond.) They did, however, release an “artist statement” on their Spring 2020 menswear collection, which seems to directly address the hoodies. From Paper, emphasis mine:
“Sometimes life can be painfully ironic,” it reads. “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.”
Life can be painfully ironic, like when a pair of clout-chasers phone in on an attempt to make art that says something about school mass shootings and their victims and survivors, and instead poke a few holes into a line of outerwear and call it “infinite potential.”
It was disgusting when Urban Outfitters pulled a similar stunt, selling a “blood-splattered” and hole-y Kent State sweater, and it’s not any less offensive and demeaning to the people these school shooting victims have left behind when it’s done by a pair of local designers.