Urban Outfitters: Still relevant?

Urban Outfitters is a line that is unique and trendy, with a slight hipster vibe to them. Their visuals are what really set them apart, and they take the time to change their wall decorations to complement your shopping experience. At least, this is what the brand meant to me a few years ago. A month ago, I passed by an Urban Outfitters store and  I couldn’t remember when I had last gone into one. I decided to walk in and look around, breaking a very long Urban Outfitters dry spell for me. I was greeted with a store layout that was considerably messier. Urban Outfitters sells accessories, home merchandise, books, and clothes and it can be difficult to arrange all the items in a visually pleasing layout. I found myself having to do a lot of loops around the store in order to take everything in, and there was a lot to take in. The entire vibe of the store was overwhelming and would serve as a good reason to opt for the online experience instead.

On top of that, the only time I hear about Urban Outfitters anymore is when they sell some kind of clothing that ends up offending someone. Granted, I used to applaud their efforts to push the envelope but their attempts to sell shock-worthy clothing have been particularly distasteful lately (see: Kent State Sweatshirt and Navajo print clothing). What is even up with Urban Outfitters’ obsession with using the term “Navajo“? I’m all for a risqué PR campaign that gets people talking about your brand but having your brand constantly associated with offensive clothing is way overdone. In fact, in between each offensive clothing incident, I don’t really ever hear a peep from Urban Outfitters for any other reason. I’ve pretty much forgotten about the brand except for the times I see them in the news for doing something offensive or if I pass by their stores. Relying on offensive clothing to stay relevant is a poor way to market to your demographic. Urban Outfitters, while you were uploading pictures of “omg such cute Navajo” clothing, a lot of your fans moved on to lower priced attire. It is not a secret that their sales have been down.

That isn’t to say that Urban Outfitters can’t pick itself back up. In fact, a lot of their styles are still spot on, albeit a little pricey for their quality. Urban Outfitters needs to clean out their closet and stop relying on offensive clothing to bring in the sales, as it clearly doesn’t really work anymore. In this day in age, everyone is offended by something and the line between cheeky and offensive is thin. Furthermore, Urban Outfitters needs to redo their layout so that their vast assortment of merchandise is not such a headache to take in. A store like Urban Outfitters has historically relied on foot traffic in their stores as part of their appeal. It was a place to hangout and shop at with their gag gifts and trendy clothes. Hopefully Urban Outfitters can get it together and clean out their closet before they become completely irrelevant.


Brandy Melville: Who is John Galt?

Who is John Galt? Or, J. Galt as he is now often referred to at Brandy Melville. I’m sure the majority of the pubescent girls that crowd the Brandy Melville stores are unaware of the store’s close ties to Ayn Rand’s collectivism ideals. Upon entering the store, you might just think that this is another young girl’s store filled with cropped tops and casual beach wear. If you can get past the gaggle of teenage girls, you’ll see that the store is one size fits all, which hilariously angers a lot of people that can’t fit into their clothing. The whole one size fits all mentality doesn’t really bother me. Sometimes I’ll fit a shirt, and sometimes I won’t. But, anyone with an understanding of how marketing works will know that you can’t cater to everyone, lest you lose your selling edge.

So, who is John Galt? Look closely and you’ll be able to catch the store’s subtle messages scattered around. Sometimes there are copies of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand lying around Brandy Melville which in my opinion, is the book that captivates her message the most. Ayn Rand’s writing often has elitist sentiments throughout her stories and it is this elitist aura the Brandy Melville feeds off of. I remember when I first walked into Brandy Melville, I saw a shirt with one of her quotes on it: “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” Intrigued, I did some browsing and saw some John Galt labels on some of their shirts while others just said Brandy Melville on them. It wouldn’t surprise me if most teenage girls just thought to themselves: “Wow, I love this cropped top. Hmm, this shirt says John Galt on the label. Who is John Galt anyways? Oh well, this top is cute.” The subtle curiosity over who John Galt is in Brandy Melville perfectly aligns with Atlas Shrugged. I had read Atlas Shrugged a few years ago so I knew immediately “who is John Galt.” John Galt is an unidentified character throughout the majority of Atlas Shrugged. Throughout the story, the characters in the book wonder to themselves: Who is John Galt? In the third half of the book, it is revealed that he is an entrepreneur and a symbol of Ayn Rand’s individualism. Ayn Rand believes in objectivism, acting in your own self-interests, capitalism, and prevailing over mediocrity.

Is anything actually unique in this world anymore?  A quick search into any fast fashion clothing store will reveal collections of clothes that are similar to Brandy Melville’s style. With the rise of Brandy’s popularity, one has to wonder if the clothing line is a step above the fast fashion mediocrity that they try to scoff at. If all the teenage girls start to wear Brandy or styles that are similar to Brandy, then they are no longer embracing individualism and will all start to look the same with their similar styles. Can one really claim to be an individual if their peers look the same as them? Who is John Galt? John Galt is an idea that Brandy Melville tries to embody to distinguish themselves from the other fast fashion brands. We’ll see how long this trend lasts in the quickly changing minds of teenage girls.