Youth-oriented retailer Urban Outfitters apologizes for selling a sweatshirt that appears to be covered in blood spatter, dirt and holes, and is emblazoned with the name of infamous U.S. college Kent State.

The clothing chain's website shows the sweatshirt as being sold out and no longer available. But over the weekend, it was available for $129 US.

Critics say it is a callous attempt to profit from the infamy of the school's name, best known for being the site where four Vietnam War protesters were shot dead by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970.

"Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused," the company said Monday. "It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such."

Kent State sweatshirt

Until recently, Urban Outfitters was selling a faded red sweatshirt emblazoned with the words KENT STATE and covered in what some people say looked like blood and bullet holes. (Image from Urban Outfitters' website)

But the company goes on to say that the violent imagery is being misconstrued and just an unintentional coincidence.

"The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection," the company said. "There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset."

The sweatshirt is just one of many scholastic-themed items that the company sells in its "urban vintage" line. Other schools named include Penn State, Bates College, University of Texas, Iowa State, New Mexico University and others — none of which appear to have clothes with any similar holes or red colouration.

Urban Outfitters Kent State

Many other school names have items in the Urban Outfitters chain's urban vintage collection. (Images from Urban Outfitter's website)