Skip to content Skip to footer

Are Bstroy’s school shooter hoodies just adding to the trauma trend?

Trauma is trendy.

Although grotesque and mortifying to even conceptualize, it’s painstakingly true and this past weekend and the events that followed have confirmed it even more.

At a show during New York Fashion Week American fashion brand, Bstroy, featured distressed school shooting-themed hoodies, reading “Stoneman Douglas,” “Sandy Hook,” “Virginia Tech” and “Columbine” —  the sites of four of the deadliest school shootings in the US.


View this post on Instagram


Bstroy Season 5 SS20 SAMSARA. Photography : @nateshuls @kusumadjaja

A post shared by Bstroy ( on

Designed by Brick Owens and Duey Catorze, the line is apart of the brand’s spring/summer 2020 collection.

It was when the line was later uploaded onto Instagram and the outside world caught wind, that the hailstorm of criticism and outrage began.

Commenters identifying themselves as survivors and relatives of survivors started leaving comments under the Bstroy IG posts and, in a similar fashion, advocates of the victims began drawing attention to the insensitive clothing line on other platforms as well.

One Instagram user, @jgmurdock, wrote, “Y’all going to hell for sure,” while @ttcrp commented “Making money off tragedy.” A memorial page for one of the teachers killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, Vicki Soto, called the hoodies  “absolutely disgusting, hurtful, wrong and disrespectful.”


View this post on Instagram


Bstroy Season 5 SS20 SAMSARA. Photography : @nateshuls @kusumadjaja

A post shared by Bstroy ( on

Shortly after the hoodies went up on Instagram in what one could assume is an explanation, or context, Ownes posted a card from the fashion show which had this statement:

“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.”


View this post on Instagram



A post shared by (🐝). (@brickowens) on

Yet, regardless of intent, families weren’t consulted and a profit will still be made. Because trauma and the conversation around it is such a hot topic, it would be counterintuitive for a society as capitalist as ours not to monetize. The fact that depression and “sad girl” / “sad boy” vibes are a saught after aesthetics and that mental illness — even suicide — is glamorized, lets you know knew exactly which audience Bstroy was targeting with these hoodies.

Bstroy is also not the first to merchandise trauma. Popular social media influencer Demetrius Harmon is another.

Harmon gained a following by making funny vines and skits on Twitter but later transitioned his brand to mental health awareness and suicide prevention when he came out with his own struggles.

Now he sells hoodies with ‘you matter’ written on them for $65.00 a pop.

Some call it exploitation while others claim it normalizes what otherwise would be a stigma. Still, what can’t be argued is that more brands are coming out with mental health-themed tee shirts, tote bags, jewelry, which is affecting the message.

When people without the diagnosis choose to wear a label it becomes preformative and is dismissive to those who can’t take their label off at the end of the day and throw it in the hamper.

Sympathizing with victims of tragedy is one thing but making fashion out of their expense is another. These are real victims, fam.