Menswear company debuts sweatshirts inspired by school shootings, faces swift backlash

The sweatshirts from Bstroy, which are riddled with holes, have the names of schools that have suffered school shootings printed across them.

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

A men's clothing line received swift backlash after debuting sweatshirts riddled with holes and bearing the names of schools known prominently for being the sites of school shootings.

Menswear clothing company Bstroy posted photos from a small New York Fashion Week fashion show on their Instagram account Sunday. Among their new collection were hooded sweatshirts in different colors with the names of four schools — Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Stoneman Douglas and Columbine — printed across the front.

All four shirts were accented with distressed manufactured holes, appearing to replicate bullet holes.

Streetwear brand Bstroy designed sweatshirts with the names of famous school shootings with distressing that looks like bullet holes.@bstroy.us / via Instagram

The schools — an elementary school, a university and two high schools — all have one thing in common: They were all the locations of mass shootings carried out in the past two decades.

Nearly 100 people were killed in the four massacres combined.

"Under what scenario could somebody think this was a good idea? This has me so upset. If any of my followers no anybody involved with this clothing line, please ask them to stop it immediately," Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed at Stoneman Douglas High School in the most recent shooting depicted by the sweatshirts.

"This is disgusting," actress Alyssa Milano responded.

"There are so many ways to use fashion and clothing to make sociopolitical commentary — this isn’t it," one commenter wrote on the post showing the picture of the Sandy Hook sweatshirt. "How do you think the parents who saw their children’s clothing with bullet holes through them feel seeing this? Comforted? Empowered?"

"Being edgy without crossing boundaries is difficult and I don’t think Bstroy even saw the line when flying over this edgy boundary," said a tweet from a fashion-focused Twitter account.

Bstroy is described on its Instagram account as a "Neo-Native Menswear Design House." The co-founders, Brick Owens and Dieter Grams, were profiled for an article that ran in the New York Times Thursday about the intersection of hip-hop style and high fashion.

Owens, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but after posting pictures of the collection to Instagram Sunday, he posted a message that read in part: "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."

Grams told NBC News that the designs were intended to treat the "incidents with reverence and respect."

"At Bstroy we have always used our platform to shed light and begin conversations on overlooked issues from reality," Grams said. "We 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."

"Art’s job is to wring emotion out," Grams said, adding that the company didn't originally intend to sell the sweatshirts "but that may change now."

Other sweatshirts on Bstroy website retail for as much as $410.