Urban Outfitters

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Urban Outfitters, Inc.
Company typePublic
Founded1970; 54 years ago (1970) (as Free People) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Number of locations
700 (2023)
Area served
  • United States
  • India
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Pakistan
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Austria
  • Poland
  • Kuwait
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Qatar
Key people
Richard Hayne (CEO)
  • Clothing
  • accessories
  • cosmetics
  • footwear
  • housewares
  • music
RevenueIncrease US$3.9 billion (2019)[1]
Decrease US$231 million (2019)[1]
Decrease US$168 million (2019)[1]
Total assetsIncrease US$3.3 billion (2019)[1]
Total equityDecrease US$1.4 billion (2019)[1]
OwnerRichard Hayne (19.9%)[2]
Number of employees
24,000[1] (2019)

Urban Outfitters, Inc. (URBN) is a multinational fast-fashion company headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[3] Operating in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, select Western European countries, Poland,[4] the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar, the Urban Outfitters brand targets young adults with a merchandise mix of women's and men's fashion apparel, footwear, beauty and wellness products, accessories, activewear and gear, and housewares, as well as music, primarily vinyl records and cassettes.

The company was founded as the retail store Free People by Richard Hayne, Judy Wicks and Scott Belair in 1970 as a project for an entrepreneurship class at University of Pennsylvania.[5] It was renamed to Urban Outfitters and incorporated in 1976.[5]

Urban Outfitters, Inc. (URBN) carries multiple stores within the URBN portfolio of brands, which also includes Anthropologie, Free People, Terrain, BHLDN and the Vetri Family restaurant group. Much of the merchandise is designed and produced by the company's wholesale division on these multiple private labels.[6]

Corporate history[edit]

In the 1970s, Dick Hayne opened a store and called it Free People in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As the store eventually grew from one to two storefronts, the name was changed from Free People to Urban Outfitters.[7]

Urban Outfitters store in Halifax, Nova Scotia

In 2007, the company 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.[why?][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 Q4 2015, the company announced plans to acquire the Vetri Family, a Philadelphia restaurant group. As the company was facing declining same store sales and foot traffic, the acquisition illustrated the retailer's shift in strategy. This includes restaurants Amis Trattoria, Bar Amis, and Pizzeria Vetri. There are two Pizzeria Vetri locations in Philadelphia, with other locations in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, Devon, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.[11]

In 2019, the company drew attention by announcing the sale of used VHS tapes for $40.[12] In the same year, Urban Outfitters launched Nuuly, a subscription clothing rental service. Following that, the company launched Nuuly Thrift, a resale platform for buying and selling women's, men's and kids’ apparel and accessories from URBN labels and other brands.[13]

As of 2020, Urban Outfitters does not publicly disclose which factories produce the brand's clothing.[14] It also has no human resources department.[3]

In December 2022, Urban Outfitters announced the departure of its president, Francis Pierrel, from the company.[15][16]


Urban Outfitters' products have also been the subject of multiple complaints and criticism, largely from religious, ethical, and ethnic pressure groups including a local chapter of the NAACP,[17][18] Anti-Defamation League[19] and Navajo Nation for some of their products.

Labor practices[edit]

On November 27, 2009, URBN 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.[20][21] In response to the move, ombudsman Jimmy Ekman called for tougher laws to prevent other firms denying collective bargaining rights in this way.[22]

In 2019, a former executive of Chinese descent with 40 years at the company sued it for ethnic and age-based discrimination.[3]

In 2021, the company only received a score of 11-20% in the Fashion Transparency Index, they also have no evidence of ensuring paying living wages to their employees.[23]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "URBAN OUTFITTERS INC 2019 Annual Report Form (10-K)". United States Securities and Exchange Commission. June 25, 2020.
  2. ^ "Urban Outfitters form def 14A". Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "Asian Urban Outfitters Exec: Millennial Staffers Called Me "Mr. Miyagi"". Philadelphia Magazine. April 12, 2019. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  4. ^ Hughes, Huw (May 31, 2019). "Urban Outfitters picks Warsaw for first Central European store". fashionunited.uk. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "History". URBN. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  6. ^ "urbn-10k_20190131.htm". www.sec.gov. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  7. ^ "Our Story". Free People.
  8. ^ "NTHP Presents Honor Award To Urban Outfitters Corporate Office Campus". National Trust.
  9. ^ Karen von Hahn, "Mama, don't take my Polaroid away", Globe and Mail, page L3, September 5, 2009
  10. ^ Levinthal, Dave (January 29, 2013). "Influence chic: Urban Outfitters bags K Street help". Center for Public Integrity.
  11. ^ Elliot, Peter (July 20, 2016). "This Is the Reason Urban Outfitters Bought a Pizza Chain". Bloomberg News.
  12. ^ Deen, Khyle (February 20, 2019). "Urban Outfitters launch random, used VHS sets for $40 > Movie News > Movies | Purple Revolver". purplerevolver.com. Retrieved December 18, 2022.
  13. ^ Edelson, Sharon (August 24, 2021). "After A Successful 2019 Rental Service Launch, Urban Outfitters Is Diving Into Resale With Nuuly". Forbes.
  14. ^ Kashyap, Aruna (May 2, 2018). "When Clothing Labels Are a Matter of Life or Death". The Daily Beast. The Daily Beast. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  15. ^ "Personnel Changes". Nasdaq. December 2, 2022.
  16. ^ Ell, Kellie (December 2, 2022). "Urban Outfitters Brand President Francis Pierrel Exits". WWD. Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  17. ^ "Game's street theme upsets NAACP"St. Petersburg Times
  18. ^ "Black leaders outraged at 'Ghettopoly' game at Urban Outfitters". USAtoday, September 10, 2003. October 9, 2003. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
  19. ^ "Urban Outfitters Discontinues Offensive T-Shirt". ADL. January 9, 2004. Archived from the original on November 14, 2004. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  20. ^ "Sparkas efter krav på kollektivavtal". Aftonbladet, By Catarina Håkansson, November 27, 2009. November 27, 2009.
  21. ^ "Sparkas efter krav på kollektivavtal". Dagenshandel.se, By Jesper Stärn, November 27, 2009.
  22. ^ Efendić, Negra (November 27, 2009). "Antingen skriver man på eller blir uppsagd". Svenska Dagbladet. Svenska Dagbladet, By Negra Efendić, November 27, 2010.
  23. ^ "How Ethical is Urban Outfitters?". September 6, 2022.

External links[edit]