Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
11

The Hipster Retail Crisis

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It was barely a decade ago when the hipster fashion retail chains began their American invasion in earnest, starting from the West, North and East and working their way inward. Now their fortunes have turned rather dramatically, and the teens are driving them back into the sea:

The company said Monday that Urban’s comparable sales fell 12% in the three months ending April 30, following a 9% drop last quarter, and a 1% drop in the three months ending Oct. 31. Urban is the retailer’s biggest chain; it also owns Anthropologie and Free People, which continued to see sales soar in the first quarter.

The company says the problem is that its customers are becoming younger. Actually, what it says is that its "brand" has "moved somewhat south in terms of age group penetration." There were warning signs, I think: If you've set foot in an Urban Outfitters over the last year or so you might have noticed that it has become something like a toy store—it has clothes in the same way that Hot Topic has clothes. It's a Spencer's Gifts for internet teens.

American Apparel is still having trouble for a variety of reasons, but mostly because every major store has some square footage dedicated to AA-looking basics—truly, you could probably stock a 2009 AA from a 2014 Target—and so it will either have to become a watch and sunglasses kiosk or a store for baby clothes. What's next, then, for the teens? Anyone who says he knows is a liar or worse. Is it time to bring back the mid-2000s yet?

11 Comments / Post A Comment

KarenUhOh (#19)

Head sold separately.

LondonLee (#922)

My best friend's wife was just made president of Urban Outfitters. Think she has her work cut out for her though.

John Herrman (#8,286)

@LondonLee Boot cut jeans, mark my words

Kristin Ta@facebook (#274,591)

I, for one, wish American Apparel would become a store for baby clothes. I'm a little sick of scrolling past butts and nipples to shop for my kids. Wow, I sound old and crotchety. Get off my lawn.

Rod T (#33)

The owner of Urban is a major GOP donor. That keeps me from shopping there. Granted, I am truly old.

alorsenfants (#139)

@Rod T Can this be documented? Not that I really care — I think their stuff is ugly and Way overplayed. I just would enjoy being able to tell other people who shop there about this — maybe, with luck, it might cause them to get The Fuck out of my town!

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@Rod T Well… it's actually the other way around for me: I hate GOP mostly because those people make shit like Urban Outfitters happen. "Oh, so you like small, unique shops? Come to one of our big chain stores – we have that small, unique feeling on a scale that small unique shops can't compete with!". It's slavery and communism rolled into one, I tell ya.

Only one thing can save Urban Outfitters: a massive Stussy resurgence.

holdup!holdmyphone! (#274,038)

I like ESPRIT, personally.

hman (#53)

Martin Sheen was in front of me at the "Urban" in Georgetown years ago and every visit to any other location since has been more and more dispiriting. (He was buying sneakers btw.)

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