Sunday, 27 February 2011

Love/hate, once again


I found this very interesting article about Urban Outfitters and its founders, and I thought you would enjoy it as well. I'm not very good at writing opinion pieces as I usually try to see and explain all sides of the matter, but I really wanted to share my thoughts with you so please excuse the holes in my argumentation.

So... the article validates my reticence to shop at UO while confirming how well their marketing tactics work, as they sell items that appeal in design to consumers who tend to be more liberal/leftists while keeping prices very high, quality often low, and producing in sweatshop factories.
I was a bit surprised to see how the chain started out, in 1970, as a modest thrift store named The Free People's Store which even had a charity bin containing free items. It was more of a community, student store while today, it has become a capitalist enterprise with no social goal. I think that what is bothering me the most in the light of my knew knowledge is how UO exploits (fashionable?) leftism as means to make a capital, and that we all fall for it: the artsy, vintage aura of the company is only a cover, a marketing technique that still keeps appealing to informed customers. But Urban Outfitters is not responsible for all the moral challenges they create; yes, I do feel manipulated by the fact the company produces items that appeal to my aesthetic tastes and sells them in a somewhat misleading environment, but I am still responsible for my purchases. I'm under the impression I would find this situation much less challenging morally if the company and its president, Richard Hayne, were upfront with their Republican and capitalist ideals (see the last page of the article for examples) while now I feel cheated by myself, divided between my love for pretty fabrics and my ideals.

Obviously, I am no saint and continue to purchase items from chain stores, made in poor working conditions, but I still make a point of being fully aware of what surrounds my consumerism. I do not think I'll stop buying from Urban Outfitters anytime soon -they ironically (I mean, they are not being ironic on purpose haha!) have sales at thrift store prices (my latest purchase being a Madras silk skirt for 6$, yes), making them fulfill once again their initial purpose amongst students...- but I am glad to be much more aware of what I am doing.

Let me know what you think of all this!


  1. I've deleted my comment four times because I think to many things. HAH!
    Being in NZ we don't have any chain stores that sale cool clothes. But I did just hear from a friend that Zambezi has stuff made from monkey fur in their stores this season. Holy shit. MONKEY!!


    Clothing will always be hard. I'm considering buying some shoes from top shop for my birthday. I know nothing about them and don't want to find out because I really need/want these shoes. haha.

    Moral dilemmas are horrible.

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  3. ooops...i buy things from UO as well...

  4. Jessicat: I would have been delighted to read all of those four comments haha! But yes, monkey fur! I wouldn't feel comfortable wearing that, so I think it's good to either be very informed about what we buy, or not at all...
    If Jane: It's a bit difficult to resist!


Dear reader, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I do my best to respond to all comments in a timely manner, and although I sometimes may be slow, you can be sure they will all be answered by the time a new post has been published.