Urban Outfitters

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Urban Outfitters, Inc.
Type Public
Traded as
Industry Retail
Founded Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. (1970 (1970))
Founder(s)
Headquarters Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Number of locations 401 (May 2012)[1]
Area served
  • United States
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Netherlands
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
Key people Richard Hayne (chairman)
Products
  • Clothing
  • accessories
  • cosmetics
  • footwear
  • housewares
  • music
Revenue Increase US$ 3,086.608 million (2014) [2]
Operating income Increase US$ 426.831 million (2014) [2]
Net income Increase US$ 282.36 million (2014) [2]
Total assets Increase US$ 2,221.214 million (2014) [2]
Total equity Increase US$ 1,694.17 million (2014) [2]
Employees 25,000 (2011)
Subsidiaries
Website

Urban Outfitters, Inc. is an American multinational clothing corporation headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It operates in the United States, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The company was founded by Richard Hayne, Scott Belair, and Gabriel Tham-Morrobel in 1970, and was renamed and incorporated in 1976. Its inventory primarily consists of clothing, footwear, and housewares, which largely draw from from bohemian, hipster, ironically humorous, kitschy, retro, and vintage styles. The company has additionally collaborated with designers and luxury brands on several occasions. Urban Outfitters manages five separate brands, including its namesake, Anthropologie, Free People, Terrain, and BHLDN; together, the brands operate over 400 retail locations worldwide.[3]

History[edit]

On March 15, 2001, the company reclassified shipping and handling revenue into net sales.[4] On January 23, 2014, Wendy Wurtzburger, who "was instrumental in developing Leifsdottir, a brand that Anthropologie sold in select units and wholesaled to Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom", left Urban Outfitters.[5] In April 2011, the company decided to sell Liefsdottir through its own company.[5]

Corporate identity[edit]

Urban Outfitters SoHo location in New York City

Urban Outfitters has been described as sexy, hip, stylish, kitschy, catlike and bizarre merchandise, for example, T-shirts emblazoned with the words "Jive Turkey" or "Atari".[6] They are known for catering to "hipster" culture and fashion, which incorporates an influence from past decades. In house brands include Kimchi Blue, BDG (Bulldog), Pins & Needles, Sparkle & Fade, Silence + Noise, Coincidence & Chance, Deena & Ozzy, Ecote and Staring at Stars. According to their website, Urban Outfitters' "established ability to understand our customers and connect with them on an emotional level is the reason for our success." The site says that "the reason for this success is that our brands... are both compelling and distinct. Each brand chooses a particular customer segment, and once chosen, sets out to create sustainable points of distinction with that segment" and that "the emphasis is on creativity. 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." [7]

Urban Outfitters seeks to create "a differential shopping experience, which creates an emotional bond with the 18 to 30 year old target customer we serve."[8] In 2011, it agreed to sell limited editions of Polaroid ONE600 instant cameras and Type 779 instant film in partnership with the Austrian entrepreneur Florian Kaps, who acquired the rights to manufacture 700 copies of the defunct product.[9] In January 2013, it hired the Abraham & Roetzel lobbying firm, led by former Republican Sen. Spencer Abraham, to advocate on its behalf in Washington, D.C., regarding retail industry policy.[10]

In 2007 Urban Outfitters received the National Preservation Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation for the Urban Outfitters Corporate Office Campus located on the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.[11] For the same campus, Urban Outfitters received the 2007 Global Award for Excellence from the Urban Land Institute.[12] In March 2008, to introduce its new Terrain brand, the company entered the Philadelphia Flower Show and won the Alfred M. Campbell Award, the Conservation Award, People’s Choice Award and Best in Show.[13]

Criticism[edit]

Product controversies[edit]

Urban Outfitters' products have been the subject of multiple controversies, particularly concerning religious and ethnic issues.

  • In 2003, the company released a Monopoly parody called Ghettopoly. The game was criticized as racist by a local chapter of the NAACP[14] and black clergy, among others.[15] The creator of the game, David Chang, maintained the games are "a medium to bring together in laughter," adding, "If we can't laugh at ourselves... we'll continue to live in blame and bitterness."[15]
  • Also in 2003, a T-shirt released with the phrase "Everyone Loves a Jewish Girl" surrounded by dollar signs was condemned,[16] though the Anti-Defamation League welcomed the decision to discontinue the shirts, saying that it hoped "that this experience, combined with another recent controversy surrounding an Urban Outfitters product that reinforced stereotypes, has served to sensitize the company to the sensibilities of its customer base and all ethnic groups."[17] The ADL later expressed "outrage and disgust" at other incidents of insensitivity.[18]
  • The following year, in 2004, Jesus Dress Up, a game created by artist Normal Bob Smith, drew additional critical response.[19][20] The company allegedly received feedback from an estimated 250,000 emails.[21] Urban Outfitters noted that the magnets, which had been their sixth most popular Christmas toy,[22] were not intended to offend, but rather appeal to their customers' diversity. Urban Outfitters no longer markets the game.[23]
  • In 2006, the retailer was criticized [24] for offering sparkly handgun-shaped Christmas ornaments in its hometown of Philadelphia, a city that had seen over 1,700 shootings and over 300 gun-related murders for the year.[25] After the murder of officer Charles Cassidy, the company announced on November 15, 2007 that it would no longer sell the gun-shaped ornament.[26]
  • In 2007, complaints by Jewish groups over the company sales of keffiyehs (which had been marketed as "antiwar" scarves)[27] led Urban Outfitters to stop carrying that item.[28] Urban Outfitters issued a statement, "Due to the sensitive nature of this item, we will no longer offer it for sale. We apologize if we offended anyone, this was by no means our intention."[27]
  • In May 2008, after concern in the Jewish community, Urban Outfitters discontinued a T-shirt that featured a Palestinian child holding an AK-47 over the word "Victimized". According to a company representative, "[W]e do not buy items to provoke controversy or to intentionally offend. We have pulled this item in all of our locations and will no longer be selling it online either."[29]
  • In May 2010, The Village Voice published an article comparing various local Brooklyn artists merchandise to products sold later by Urban Outfitters, claiming they have been stealing people's work and designs.[30]
  • In June 2010, the company was criticized for having made a controversial T-shirt saying "Eat Less" over the stomach. Some people considered it as insensitive to people struggling with anorexia and other eating disorders.[31] The tee-shirt was eventually pulled from the website but it was still sold in stores.[32]
  • In May 2011, Stephanie "Stevie" Koerner, a designer who owns an online store on Etsy, claimed that Urban Outfitters' "I Heart Destination" necklaces were stolen from her "United World Of Love", which both featured metal chain necklaces of various states with heart shaped holes punched in.[33] Blogger April Winchell investigated and discovered that the necklaces featured a common design which a number of other artists, both on and outside of Etsy, had been selling for at least a year prior to Koerner's first sale. Additionally, Winchell drew attention to a commenter's discovery of another instance in which Koerner had claimed credit for a design that was not originally hers.[34] Nevertheless, Urban Outfitters removed the product from their online store.[35]
  • In 2011, the Navajo Nation sent a cease-and-desist letter to Urban Outfitters, demanding that the company stop using the term "Navajo" for a line of products that include underwear and a liquor flask. The tribe holds at least 10 trademarks on their name and alleges the company of trademark violation and criticism of the product.[36] On October 19, 2011, Urban Outfitters removed the word "Navajo" from product names on its website.[37]
  • In 2012, many in the Irish-American community were upset and threatened to boycott Urban Outfitters over St. Patrick's Day t-shirts, which monolithically depicted Irish and Irish-Americans as drunkards.[38]
  • In 2012, several popular LGBT news blogs criticized the company's choice to feature a transphobic greeting card. The card has since been removed from the website's catalog. The company did not issue any public statement regarding the controversy.[39]
  • In April 2012, the Anti-Defamation League condemned Urban Outfitters for selling a tee-shirt with a six-pointed star design, which the ADL claims strongly resembled the star Jews in Nazi Germany were made to wear during the Holocaust.[40] The Danish brand, Wood Wood, that makes the tee shirt is also corporate partners with Adidas and Converse. The shirt no longer features the star.[41]
  • In September 2012, president of the Human Rights Foundation Thor Halvorssen published an open letter to Urban Outfitters urging the company to cease sales of clothing featuring Che Guevara. Halvorssen claims the clothing, often featuring the word "revolución" romanticizes "a brutal tyrant who suppressed individual freedom in Cuba and murdered those who challenged his worldview."[42][43] The merchandise has since been removed from stores.[44]
  • In September 2013, Urban Outfitters "Standard Cloth Patch" vest featured U.S. military patches. One of the patches was the scroll used by the 75th Infantry Battalion also known as the "Rangers." Rangers and other veterans objected as the Ranger Scroll is only awarded to those currently serving in the 75th Infantry Battalion.[45]
  • In February 2014, Urban Outfitters pulled a shirt that featured the word "Depression" in a variety of sizes across the entire shirt. Many people used social media to express their feelings that it was an insensitive design.[46]

Labor practices[edit]

On November 27, 2009, the firm drew the attention of the Swedish press for denying collective bargaining rights to employees at their Stockholm store by making all 38 workers redundant and re-hiring them through employment agency Academic Work.[47][48] In response to the move, ombudsman Jimmy Ekman called for tougher laws to prevent other firms denying collective bargaining rights in this way.[49]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Urban Outfitters Announces Leifsdottir to be Sold Exclusively at Anthropologie
  2. ^ a b c d e "URBAN OUTFITTERS INC 2014 Annual Report Form (10-K)" (XBRL). United States Securities and Exchange Commission. April 1, 2014. 
  3. ^ http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/urban-outfitters-inc-history/
  4. ^ "Urban Outfitters Reports Fourth Quarter and Annual Results". 
  5. ^ a b Edelson, Sharon (27 January 2014). "Wendy Wurtzburger Exits Anthropologie". WWD. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  6. ^ Philadelphia Weekly
  7. ^ Corporate website
  8. ^ Corporate website
  9. ^ Karen von Hahn, "Mama, don't take my Polaroid away", Globe and Mail, page L3, September 5, 2009
  10. ^ Center for Public Integrity
  11. ^ "NTHP Presents Honor Award To Urban Outfitters Corporate Office Campus". National Trust. 
  12. ^ "ULI Announces Five Winners of the 2007 Global Awards for Excellence Competition". The Urban Land Institute. 
  13. ^ "Urban Outfitters’ Terrain". Design Philadelphia, March 2008. 
  14. ^ "Game's street theme upsets NAACP"St. Petersburg Times
  15. ^ a b "Black leaders outraged at 'Ghettopoly' game at Urban Outfitters". USAtoday, 10/9/2003. October 9, 2003. Retrieved May 27, 2010. 
  16. ^ Paynter, Susan. "Fashion statement sends a hurtful message", Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 28, 2004
  17. ^ "ADL Welcomes Urban Outfitters' Decision to Discontinue Production of Offensive T-Shirt", Anti-Defamation League, January 9, 2004.
  18. ^ "Urban Outfitters At It Again", Anti-Defamation League, March 15, 2006.
  19. ^ Washington Times March 22, 2004 http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2004/mar/22/20040322-092410-2758r/
  20. ^ "‘Dress-Up Jesus’ Creator Reacts to NBC 10 Story", NBC 10 Philadelphia
  21. ^ "Urban Outfitters dumps 'Jesus Dress Up". AFA. 
  22. ^ "Magnet "Toy" nearly Destroys all Mankind". NormalBOBsmith.com. 
  23. ^ Site quotes Washington Times
  24. ^ Retailer under fire
  25. ^ The Philadelphia Inquirer
  26. ^ Urban Outfitters: Blog
  27. ^ a b Kim, Kibum. "Where Some See Fashion, Others See Politics", The New York Times, February 11, 2007.
  28. ^ "Iconic Palestinian headdress brings colourful clash to Beirut", Agence France-Presse, December 7, 2008.
  29. ^ Ramer, Alison Avigayil. "Fashion wars / U.S. store pulls 'pro-violence' Palestinian T-shirt", Haaretz, May 22, 2008.
  30. ^ "Are Brooklyn Fashion Designers Being Ripped Off By Urban Outfitters?", May 27, 2010.
  31. ^ Johnson, John (June 3, 2010). "'Eat Less' T-Shirt In Bad Taste". Newser. Retrieved January 8, 2012. 
  32. ^ Odell, Amy (June 4, 2010). "Urban Outfitters Stopped Selling Its ‘Eat Less’ Shirt Online". New York. Retrieved January 8, 2012. 
  33. ^ "Not Cool Urban Outfitters, Not Cool.", May 25, 2011.
  34. ^ "Urban Outrage"[dead link], Regretsy, May 27, 2011.
  35. ^ "Urban Outfitters Offers Jewelry Identical To Independent Designer's Line", Consumerist, May 26, 2011.
  36. ^ "Navajo calls out Urban Outfitters for its products", Associated Press, October 18, 2011.
  37. ^ "Urban Outfitters pulls 'Navajo' name from website", Associated Press, October 19, 2011.
  38. ^ Irish-Americans' fury over 'arrogant and disrespectful' novelty St Patrick's Day T-shirts at Urban Outfitters
  39. ^ Wong, Curtis (March 19, 2012). "LOOK: Urban Outfitters Greeting Card Causes Outrage". Huffington Post. 
  40. ^ "Anti-Defamation League slams Urban Outfitters over shirt featuring perceived Holocaust imagery". Fox News. April 23, 2012. 
  41. ^ http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=24268690
  42. ^ "An Open Letter to Urban Outfitters Regarding Their Che Guevara Merchandise". Human Rights Foundation. Retrieved April 14, 2013. 
  43. ^ Halvorssen, Thor. "An Open Letter to Urban Outfitters Regarding Their Che Guevara Merchandise". The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 15, 2013. 
  44. ^ Carrasquillo, Adrian. "Urban Outfitters removes Che Guevara merchandise after outrage". NBC Latino. Retrieved April 15, 2013. 
  45. ^ http://guardianofvalor.com/urban-outfitters-decides-ranger-scroll-fashion-accessory/
  46. ^ Stampler, Laura. "This Is The Urban Outfitters Shirt That Has People Going Apoplectic". TIME Business. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  47. ^ "Sparkas efter krav på kollektivavtal". Aftonbladet, By Catarina Håkansson, November 27, 2009. 
  48. ^ "Sparkas efter krav på kollektivavtal". Dagenshandel.se, By Jesper Stärn, November 27, 2009. 
  49. ^ "Antingen skriver man på eller blir uppsagd". Svenska Dagbladet, By Negra Efendić, November 27, 2009. 

External links[edit]