Fashion hotspot Urban Outfitters was founded in Philadelphia in 1970 however over recent years it has experienced exponential growth.
This growth is because of multiple factors including changes within the companies business model and external factors such as developments in the fashion industry.
The fashion industry is in a constant state of change and is constantly adapting to meet consumer needs.
Years ago people would have a few items of clothing that they were particularly fond of and that they would wash and wear for years on end, however, this has changed.
A large amount of the fashion industry is now based around fast fashion, this is a business model based around replicating trends and looks from the catwalk and fashion shows at an affordable cost.
This is a cycle which consumers buy into and as trends and fashion changes so does their wardrobe, this is problematic as people keep clothing for a short amount of time before disposing of it and buying new in order to keep up with fashion trends.
One of the biggest issues with fast fashion is the impact that it has on the environment due to excess waste and growing amounts of production.
How to Tell if a Company is an Example of Fast Fashion?
Figuring out whether or not a company is based around a fast fashion business model can be incredibly difficult but there are some telltale signs that you can look out for, these can include: constantly changing what they sell to keep up with trends, low quality items, their social media channels suggesting new trends and whether or not they are constantly advertising new products.
Of course, all clothing companies engage in some of this behaviour to a degree in order to make sales but you are looking for a quick paced, constantly adapting and changing company when it comes to fast fashion.
Urban Outfitters Social Media Presence
As previously stated, social media can be a great starting point when trying to figure out whether or not a company uses a fast fashion business model.
Urban Outfitters has a massive social media presence with millions of followers. Here we looked at each one individually, as follows:
- Facebook– On Facebook Urban Outfitters have 2.1Million followers, this shows that they have a ginormous platform of customers which they can advertise to here. Interestingly, they do not post much at all averaging at less than one post a month, this goes against a fast fashion narrative.
- Instagram– On Instagram their presence is much, much larger with over 9 million followers, they also use this as a more regular way of advertising and staying in touch with buyers as they post several times most days. Throughout their instagram posts they talk about fashion seasons, celebrities and models thus suggesting that they are constantly replicating fashion trends and changing their products which is one of the fundamental aspects of fast fashion.
- TikTok– Comparatively, their TikTok following is incredibly small at less than 100 thousand. Here their advertising is discreetly done through vlogs but still suggests that it is a good idea to keep up with models and similar celebrities.
- Twitter– On Twitter Urban Outfitters have close to one million followers. They have been a member of the site since 2008 and use it every few days in order to provide links to products in their store.
Overall, Urban Outfitter’s social media presence makes it really difficult to weigh up whether or not they are an example of fast fashion.
However, there are many signs to suggest that unfortunately this is the case such as their affiliation with models and the suggestion that it is important to keep up with their trends.
As previously mentioned, price can be a big sign as to whether a business is based around fast fashion or not. Although it is natural to look for a bargain it can actually be really harmful and a way of buying into fast fashion.
With Urban Outfitters, it is particularly difficult to tell whether their price is an indicator of fast fashion as they sell items from a number of brands including Levi’s, UGG and American Apparel, who each decide on their items’ costs.
However, they are not the cheapest of stores and most of the brands that they sell are high end fashion thus suggesting that they sell more long term items as opposed to disposable clothing.
As mentioned above Urban Outfitters predominantly sell high end fashion most of which is high quality.
The fact that Urban Outfitters are focused on selling high quality clothing suggests that they are not using a fast fashion business model as the clothes are designed to have a long shelf life.
For instance, one of the brands which they sell a lot of is Levi’s. When bought directly Levi’s offer a two year warranty on their jeans and other items which is another indicator that they are aiming to provide clothes which will last as opposed to items which need replacing every six months.
On their website Urban Outfitters do not seem to advertise current trends or fashion show replicas but rather they focus on different (non-season specific) styles such as vintage and branded clothing.
These sorts of styles are more sustainable than seasonal favourites. They also do not focus on celebrities or models but rather they shine the spotlight on the clothing itself.
The fact that Urban Outfitters sells a range of brands initially makes it harder to conclude whether or not they are an example of fast fashion as each brand has its own business model and identity.
However, as a company they clearly endorse sustainable fashion and only sell clothes to a certain standard, they also put no pressure on customers to stay up to date with constantly changing fashion trends.
Although they sometimes use models and celebrities as a way of advertising, when all is considered, it is fair to assume that this is just done to appeal to a larger audience rather than to instil the pressure for customers to buy into fast fashion.
Overall, it is fair to conclude that Urban Outfitters is a sustainable company and not an example of fast fashion.