Fashion Faux Pas, or Groundbreaking Garb?


Creative Commons

Shelby Tindall, Co-managing Editor

Imagine one of the most horrific occurrences in history, like the Holocaust. Or perhaps think of one of the most prevailing problems of the 21st century, such as depression. It doesn’t take a genius to know that it probably isn’t a great idea to make a shirt about one of these…or maybe it does where Urban Outfitters is concerned.

Urban Outfitters is a popular clothing retailer focused on customers’ “interest in contemporary art, music and fashion,” or so the company proclaims on its website. The company has been described as hipster, kitschy, bohemian and bizarre. They have found success through their “emphasis on creativity,” the company says on their website. “Our goal is to offer a product assortment and an environment so compelling and distinctive that the customer feels an empathetic connection to the brand and is persuaded to buy.”

Despite the company’s goal, Urban Outfitters’ connection to their customers products has been less than ideal as of late. Urban Outfitters’ products are increasingly known to be controversial. In 2010 they released a shirt that read “Eat Less” across the stomach, which many found to be insensitive due to the seriousness of eating disorders.

Just recently UO released a Vintage Kent State University Sweatshirt. The holey and red-stained sweatshirt immediately brings to mind the 1970 Kent State massacre. After a wave of outrage and negativity, an Urban Outfitters spokesperson released a formal apology for the company, stating, “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. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. …The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray.”

Discoloration? Really? Isn’t it supposed to be sun-faded? Since when does clothing fade into an intimation of bloodstains. And did no one even think for a moment that the sweatshirt looked bullet-ridden or bloodstained? It’s hard to believe that it didn’t cross anyone’s mind.

After all the “slip ups” and outrage caused, the company’s best move would be to stay on its best behavior and to make sure all its products are pleasing and up to par. And it seems as if the company is on the right track; they have stayed popular thanks to their unique and stylish attire.

But browsing through their website as of late leaves some doubt and confusion as to whether Urban Outfitters is learning from their mistakes.

Imagine a good-ol’ fashioned farmer in his blue denim overalls. His overalls have some patches on the knees and dirt stains from his hard-work. Now thinking about those overalls, one probably wouldn’t place the highest value on them. But Urban Outfitters recently sold a pair of “Vintage French Repaired Overalls” for $650. Now sure, overalls have been making a comeback recently, but dirty and sloppy is never chic. And those are really the only two words that accurately describe the overalls.

UO Vintage Overall_lr

Not only is the quality shoddy, but the price is outrageous. Wine may gain value over time, but this is no Merlot. This pair of overalls has not gained that type of value, and to price them at $650 is just ridiculous and insulting. There are designers out there creating beautiful, handmade dresses whose work is much more deserving of $650 than a second hand pair of overalls.

Culprit B isn’t too different from the overalls. Urban Outfitters calls this shirt the “Vintage UCLA tee.” This tee is pretty normal; it’s just a plain white t-shirt that reads “UCLA Bruins.” Seems fine, except for the giant gaping hole in the middle of the shirt. $119 for an exposed chest? No way.

UO Vintage UCLA Tee_lr

But Urban Outfitters doesn’t just sell clothing; they sell accessories and home goods too. And they seem to have some questionable accessories as well. UO tries to have unique products with their hipster focus, but their Collina Strada Harness Bag may be taking things too far.

UO Harness Bag_lr

The thing is, it’s not really a bag. The harness bag looks more like half a bra than anything that can actually hold items. It’s curious as to how functional it is. The bag looks like it couldn’t even fit a phone, so fitting all your necessities in there seems less than likely.

And its design is less than ideal. Because of its placement on the body, putting anything in the bag that isn’t flat will leave the bag lumpy, and consequently your chest will look a little funky and lopsided too. Plus, why does the bag costs $280? It may be leather, but this is no Fendi or Prada.

Now it’s not to say Urban Outfitters doesn’t have great products. They have wonderful and beautiful reasonably priced items that let individuals shine in their own unique style. But the company does have a responsibility to monitor their products and provide the best to the consumers. As they said, they want to provide “a product assortment and an environment so compelling and distinctive that the customer feels an empathetic connection.” And when products as ridiculous and overpriced as $650 overalls are being sold, it leaves one wondering how great Urban Outfitters really is and how their products to come will be.


With $650, instead of buying overalls you could use that money instead to….

  • Order 371 tall Starbucks fresh brewed coffees
  • Buy 95 Chipotle burritos (that includes tax too!)
  • Order 105 Big Mac MEALS (that’s the burger, fries, and a drink….)
  • Buy the new iPhone 6
  • Purchase almost 6 fleece North Face jackets