An Urban Legend: A Retailer Finds Fashion Success
by Marianne Salina
In a sea of clothing merchants selling to the same age groups, how do certain companies manage to stay at the top of their game? Urban Outfitters is one retailer that has successfully won the patronage of millions of 18- to 30-year-olds with its edgy, up-to-date trends. What is the chain's secret to consistent success? They say it lies within their mission to both understand and create an emotional connection with their customer.
Fashion Roots in Philadelphia
The idea for a "funky" clothing store with offbeat apparel and household products resulted in the first Urban Outfitters finding its home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1970. Since then, more than 140 Urban Outfitters stores are now scattered throughout the United States, Canada, Ireland, and the UK. People flock to the retail giant to find their own version of a particular look or trend, as Urban Outfitters provides clothing that runs the gamut from punk rock, preppy, or 80s misfit.
Taking Stock in the Personal Stuff
The famous clothier has run into a bit of trouble over the years for their controversial approach to fashion. The store's t-shirts often project bold political or religious statements that have incurred criticism. While boycotted by some, for the most part, Urban Outfitters has generated a faithful following of city youth: folks who prefer their jeans and tees make more of a statement than what they'd find at a nearby Gap.
Merchandising the Individual
Urban Outfitters is also the proud owner of Anthropologie and Free People--clothing stores that aim to provide unique, vintage-inspired apparel for women who love quality and soft elegance. Anthropologie markets its apparel to the fashion-conscious homemaker or career-minded woman, whereas Free People caters to the 20-something woman who's style is youthful, but sophisticated.
Fashion Design School Teaches Retail Prowess
All three clothing stores have found success in dressing the individual--providing looks, brands, and styles that speak more honestly to the consumer. But how do you learn to market, merchandise, and retail the clothing that people want? Fashion design school is the best way to start learning the business of dressing. After all, our bodies are personal; clothing should be too.
About the Author
Marianne Salina has a B.A. in Literature and Creative Writing and enjoys researching and discussing the myriad of fashion design pursuits in her columns.