In light of recent gun violence and multiple mass shootings this year, you'd think designers would think twice before sending out models in school shooting gear on the runway, which is exactly what happened over the weekend.
Bstroy, a self-described "neo-native" post-apocalypse streetwear brand, unveiled their Spring 2020 menswear collection through a series of images on Instagram, which show models walking a runway wearing the brand's new clothes. Four of the looks, however, received instant backlash for depicting mass school shootings, including Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and Stoneman Douglas.
Each of these hoodies displayed the school's name on the front, with bullet hole details added throughout, recalling the tragedies of multiple students who were shot and killed on campus. The reaction was swift. "This is REPULSIVE," one commenter wrote. "I am absolutely revolted," said another. On Twitter, critics went even further.
"Putting bullet holes in school sweaters isn't shining light on an issue," wrote @bibbygregory. "It's being provocative for the sake of being provocative. And that's not very provocative. It's not artistic. It lacks refinement. It lacks intelligence. It lacks design skill. It is lazy at best."
Bstroy did not respond to PAPER's request for comment by press time, but the brand did release an "artist statement" which describes the inspiration behind their newest collection. "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."
The brand, known for their $1,000 jeans and for dipping Nike sneakers in concrete, is designed by Atlanta-based duo Brick Owens and Dieter "Du" Grams. They were recently profiled in a New York Times article, which heralded them as the next generation of haute streetwear. Their past collections have included graphic T-shirts with images of guns. "We are making violent statements," Du told the outlet. "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."
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Photos courtesy of Nayquan Shuler