Why I Refuse To Shop At Urban Outfitters

Nathan’s dislike of Urban Outfitters is so great he’s making us wait an extra week for the rest of his Style Commandments. Is he wrong to hate the popular chain?

Recently, our Fashion Editor Katie Bend wrote a controversial article entitled ‘Femininity: A Faux Pas?’

In this article, she (quite rightly in my books) had a dig at the tired trend of girls going into night clubs looking like they’ve been dragged through Oxfam on the way there.

Why was it controversial? Well, let’s face it; anything with the ‘F’ word in it is always going to draw the scathing attention of feminists and feminists, as a rule, are perpetually on the search for something to get angry about.

I should know, I am one and even I was too frightened to go on the radio with Katie when she was asked to appear to discuss the controversy.

Here’s an extract from her article so you can get the jist:

‘At Bristol, I feel as though it is committing a Cardinal Sin if one hates vintage shops and Urban Outfitters. Sure, in order to try and ‘fit in’ on many occasions I have browsed the rails, but whenever I pick something out I think to myself; ‘if this wasn’t from UO, would I buy it – and at THAT price?’

The answer is usually ‘Hell no’. It’s unflattering, boyish, and it’s pretentious (not to mention overpriced)’.

Okay, before we start throwing the term ‘hipster’ around, let’s take a step back and look at the history of the word.

It first started cropping up during the Jazz Age, a time when deviation from the restrictive social norms of the day was both admirable and necessary. If there’s any character from Western literature that I literally fell in love with, it’s Lady Brett Ashley from Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.

With her bobbed hair and relaxed attitude towards relationships, she embodied not just the sexual liberation of the twenties but ‘hipsterism’ in its purest and most revolutionary sense.

She refused to conform to the mainstream not to make some outdated fashion statement but because she was at the forefront of a new wave of thinking that was dragging the post-war world kicking and screaming into the modern age. Also, in my imagination at least, she wasn’t bad to look at.

Hipsters as we define them today are generally white, middle-class students and you could find more originality in an episode of Dragon’s Den.

They pick and choose from all of the subcultures to arise in Western society since the end of the Second World War but many features remain uniform; a disregard for anything popular despite its inherent value, a penchant for independent music and an unhealthy obsession with everything vintage and retro.

It upsets me deeply when people apply this label to me. It’s true that I do strive to be different in some senses of the word. I do have a nostalgic fondness for the past and I resent a lot of what has come to constitute popular culture.

But at the same time, I rigorously follow fashion, which represents conformity in its most shameless form. I do this precisely because I know that any attempt to be alternative always leads to a dead end.

All things ironic eventually become fashionable and all things fashionable eventually become overdone. It’s only a matter of time before any trend becomes saturated and boring.

That’s my problem with Urban Outfitters: it caters for the needs of a niche that is by its very nature nearing its sell by date.

There’s a reason that women will be walking around in well-cut dresses in a hundred years’ time; it’s called timeless style. Will they be walking around wearing charity shop jumpers and camouflage jackets? I’m not so sure.