“Urban Outfitters is a triumph of marketing - a hugely successful business that has disguised the gap between what it is and what its customers suppose it to be.
Walk into the store on Kensington High Street and be convinced you have entered a world run by a new breed of hippies - cooler and more sarcastic than the originals, and with better dress sense.
The staff look like students because many of them are, and everything in the shop blares detachment - a major attraction to twentysomethings who just can’t resist an ironic T-shirt and thirtysomethings still trying to pull off the old look. The stores have already conquered New York and London. Ireland is next.
It seems unlikely that many of the staff or the customers know much about the owner and boss of Urban - a brilliant retailer called Richard Hayne whose views would be a serious risk to sales were his profile to rise.
Hayne started the business in the 1970s, taking it public in 1993 and bringing it to Britain in 1998. He is still the biggest shareholder and a seriously rich man - a billionaire by some estimates. You only have to look to see that there is nothing remotely hip about him. There is surely a bigger gulf between Hayne and his customer base than any other High Street retailer.
Shopping in Urban makes you feel like you are somewhere radically Left-wing, an antidote to the corporate blandness of The Gap. But Hayne is a stanch conservative who donates money to Republican politicians, not least Rick Santorum, a now failed Senator whose views on homosexuality are both bizarre and old-fashioned.
Hayne doesn’t give many interviews precisely because he’s afraid that college slackers who get to know him will suddenly realise that buying his clothes is like giving cash to George Bush.
Once described as projecting a “Dick Cheney-esque aura of no-nonsense grayflannel gravitas”, Hayne must be the only retailer whose expansion plans depend on no one finding out who he really is.
Despite the strife in the sector, Urban just beat Wall Street profit expectations yet again. So far, the illusion is holding up perfectly.”
Read more here.
over the past year or so, i’ve been increasingly against the policies of urban outfitters. there have been numerous accounts of independent artists and designers who have had their work stolen by urban outfitters, without any compensation or credit, and uo has never admitted it. of course, that bothered me a lot, but i didn’t see enough cause to boycott the store at that point, probably because i didn’t want to give up a store where i buy so much of my clothing at such an affordable price. then, i found out that urban outfitters’ president and founder, richard hayne, is a right-wing supporter who donated over $13,000 to rick santorum’s senatorial campaign, as well as other die-hard conservatives’ campaigns. to me, someone who makes millions of dollars from the liberal college students and young people who often shop at urban outfitters, free people, and anthropologie, stores that deliberately cultivate an antiestablishment, liberal ideal, yet supports a man who opposes birth control, same-sex marriage, and abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, and endangerment of the mother’s life, is a hypocrite, and i don’t think i can shop there anymore, at least for now. it sounds ridiculous to say this, i know, but it’s going to be difficult for me, as someone who loves fashion and buys maybe up to fifty percent of my clothing from urban outfitters right now. while i wouldn’t label myself as a liberal, i don’t agree with hayne’s hypocrisy. i don’t know if i can really agree with anyone who supports santorum, but i might have more respect for him if he hadn’t made his fortune off of a lie, deliberating avoiding interviews and publicity because it might hurt his bottom line as people find out where their money is going. as another article says, hayne was a liberal in the sixties, someone who protested against the vietnam war and lived in the back of his store because he didn’t have any money. he and his then-wife and co-founder of urban outfitters swore that they’d never try to accumulate wealth through the store. obviously, that’s not an issue of concern for him anymore. if you want to find out more, you can read here.
Pearls before Breakfast
In an experiment initiated by Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten, Bell donned a baseball cap and played as an incognito street busker at the Metro subway station L’Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C. on January 12, 2007. The experiment was videotaped on hidden camera; among 1,097 people who passed by, only seven stopped to listen to him, and only one recognized him. For his nearly 45-minute performance, Bell collected $32.17 from 27 passersby (excluding $20 from the passerby who recognized him). The night prior, he earned considerably more playing the same repertoire at a concert. Weingarten won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for his article on the experiment.