Urban Outfitters offers edgy fashion options (which sometimes border on offensive), but shopping there comes with a high price, both monetarily and morally.

The change of seasons brings many exciting things: apple picking, cozy boots, sweaters, and the return of our favorite television shows. Most importantly, fall also brings major sales from clothing stores. And if you’re cloistered in Middletown, the Internet shopping opportunities are really too good to be ignored. But if you’re a Wesleyan student burdened with the mantle of social justice and a small budget, this gold mine becomes more of a minefield.

The first example that springs to mind is Urban Outfitters. None of us is better than Urban; at least personally speaking, I can’t resist its allure. There is nothing wrong with the occasional splurge. Sometimes I eat my cereal with melted ice cream when I’m out of milk, and sometimes I buy faux-hipster, pre-distressed, definitely-cheaper-at-Goodwill stuff from Urban, and I can admit that.

Hannah Thompson ’17 (who, at the time of this interview, was wearing an Urban Outfitters cardigan) brought up a specific example of some great finds from her youth.

“I bought four pairs of torn-up cutoffs at a flea market for $12,” she said. “One pair at Urban would be like $50 or $60 each.”

In the interest of journalistic integrity, I searched online, and sure enough each tiny pair of denim underwear went for about $58.

Rachel Santee ’17 agreed, saying that she shops at Urban Outfitters, but does so with a guilty conscience. But our guilty consciences don’t arise merely from buying the lame, corporate-cool, overpriced, fake shit. Besides being unreasonably (and, may I add, insultingly) expensive, Urban just has the general stench of evil.

Here’s a recent example, in case you missed it by somehow avoiding the Internet forever: Urban Outfitters marketed a blood-splattered Kent State sweatshirt for $129. Sweet biscuits, where to begin? First off, $129 for a sweatshirt? Was this sweatshirt handmade by Queen Elizabeth before being soaked in the tears of North West? No, it was likely made by child slaves in Southeast Asia. I can’t confirm this, but Urban Outfitters’ production practices hardly rule this out. And most horrifying, of course: it was a blood-splattered Kent State sweatshirt.

The Kent State incident is not an anomaly. Over the course of its lifetime, Urban Outfitters has offended pretty much every identifiable group, including Jews, gays, women, victims of eating disorders, Aboriginal Americans, victims of alcohol and substance abuse, and, speaking personally, people who are literate. Its purported “book section” is an awful lot of dirty picture books with bad puns and with very little literary redemption.

The Washington Post ran an article in September when the Kent State sweatshirt was released. In it, Tim Herrera argued that Urban Outfitters stages these offensive stunts for attention.

“[The sweatshirt is] just the latest in the clothier’s line of insensitive products apparently aimed at generating buzz to boost visibility,” he wrote. “These clothes aren’t really meant to be purchased and worn; they are marketing tools.”

Santee concurred.

“I know it has gotten into a lot of trouble in the past for being insensitive and homophobic and whatnot, which is unfortunate,” she said. “I still shop there because a lot of the time, the stuff you find there you can’t find anywhere else.”

She’s right. For example, the fall sale sweaters start at $49. Where else could you find such absolute bullshit marketing that would pretend that half of a hundred dollars is a sale price? That’s a great sale price for a townhouse in Brooklyn. Clearly, I’m a college student who makes no money, but still.

Here’s some more food for thought: Richard Hayne, the CEO of Urban Outfitters (and Anthropologie and Free People, in case you hippies thought you were exempt), donated over $13,000 to Rick Santorum’s reelection campaign. This doesn’t mean that Hayne personally opposes abortion rights and gay marriage, just that part of the $49 you paid for a sweater that already has holes in it may be used to fight equality and deny rights.

Maybe it’s my own fault, but when I search “fall sales” online, Urban Outfitters’ sale comes up first. But scroll on down, and there is a link to Northern Californian Girl Scouts selling nuts and magazines. Is there anything more wholesome?

Yes. It’s $1.50 Sundays at our local Goodwill.

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