Major Essay 1: A Paradoxical Image


Major Essay 1’s assignment consisted of a review of a product, performance, place, or experience. I chose to review the store Urban Outfitters by evaluating certain criteria: the styling of the window displays and mannequins, the immensity of the store, the abundance of items to choose from (not just clothes), the prices, and the quality of the attire.

The audience I was directing my writing towards consists of teenagers, specifically girls, between the approximate ages of thirteen and twenty. Essentially, I was targeting a group of young people similar to myself. However, this text can also relate to males, as a lot of my male friends enthuse over Urban Outfitters as well. I wanted the portion of the youth who passionately admires and worships the store to read my piece, not only to agree with my praising points, but also to realize and acknowledge the downfalls and counter-culture the store promotes throughout American society today.  

To begin with, I had an outlined ideaof how I wanted to approach my piece of writing. I firstly wanted to praise the store for its success in many fields and throughout American culture, but I also wanted to counter-argue its triumph by elaborating on some of its disadvantages and nonfulfillment. At the beginning, the only disadvantage I thought of was its ridiculous prices. But as I was writing the piece, a paradox arose that opposes its selling point, which you will discover as you read the piece.

If I were to revise my piece further, I would elaborate on specific points with a greater degree of detail. There is so much to say about this store because it has so much going on in it. However, I generally prefer concise and to-the-point texts, so that’s how I decided to write mine. I got my points across to the audience throughout the paragraphs, which didn’t prolong unnecessarily. My favourite feature about my piece is how I attempt to foreshadow my conclusion and ending point in the body of my essay in order to create both intrigue and suspense within the reader. I then conclude with a semi open-ended question that makes the audience think and reflect upon the actuality and future of Urban Outfitters. 


I walked past the store as an outsider. The window displays and decorations caught my eye. There was something intrinsicallyattractive and addictive about the styling of the mannequins and the layout of the store. Right off the bat, you get this retro but forward, vintage but edgy feel. The majority of teenagers do not want to be seen as “ordinary,” so this unique twist can seem extremely desirable for many people. The clothes hang effortlessly from the statues; the styling is perfectly messy. As you envision yourself taking over the mannequin’s body, you cannot stop yourself from walking inside…

Urban Outfitters. I would hear this name resonate throughout the room time and time again, as my friends praised the store animatedly. “How do they always seem to know exactly what the public desires?” I would hear them say that line with the utmost admiration beaming through their eyes whilst their arms performed insistent movements as if they were truly searching for a legitimate answer from the skies above. This wasn’t the first time I had heard the name Urban Outfitters, for I had shopped there in the past when I would visit the United States or Canada. And even though this store doesn’t exist where I have lived for my entire life, or in mostEuropean countries, everyone I know raves about it. As expressed in Bloomberg Businessweek’s magazine article called “Urban Outfitters, Fashion Victim,” the author says “Urban Outfitters’ success lies in its ability to pinpoint exactly what kind of edge its hip – but not too hip – costumers want.” For this reason, I was starting to get the impression that the popularity of this store was getting infinitely larger amongst American culture and the youth especially.

The sheer size of the store was reassuringly overwhelming. Many of the Urban Outfitters I have been to have two levels, and all of them have high ceilings and tons of space. There is so much for your eyes to attachonto, so in a semi-frantic mania, I began my path around the tables, shelves, and racks. Whoever you are and whatever your fashion sense might be, I can guarantee a large percentage of young people can find something that suits them and their aesthetic.

And this doesn’t have to be limited to clothing items. Urban Outfitters is not just a clothing shop: it also sells household amenities, books, music, witty gifts for your friends, all types of accessories, shoes, make-up, and more. Whether you are shopping for yourself or your family or your boyfriend of your friends, there is always an abundance of options to choose from. Why do they sell all of this stuff? It’s as though they’re selling an entire identity, which pertains to a certain period of a person’s life. I remember wandering towards the bookshelves and getting lost in that section;the titles of the books themselves were intriguingly unconventional and made you want to discover more. As I was flipping through some pages, there were books about drinking games, dirty language, sex positions, and other risqué subjects that parentsmight be offended by.

Urban Outfitters does have its disadvantages and weaknesses, which affect the consumer population. The prices, for one, are ridiculously inflated, which turn certain portions of the public away in disgust. For these groups of people, Urban Outfitters may always only amount to tempting eye-candy. In my personal experience, I have found myself on my way to the cash register to purchase one or a few articles, when I intelligently decide to glance over the prices for the first time and stop in my tracks. See, I have a slight habit of never looking at the price tags when I should. At this moment, I realize that it is not worth spending fifty dollars for a pair of leggings. Yes, I am in love with them, but I simply cannot afford throwing away that much money for something I can buy for much less elsewhere. I am sure many other teenagers also get discouraged and repulsed by the numbers on these tags.

The equivalent to Urban Outfitters in Geneva, Switzerland, for instance, which is my hometown, would probably be a clothing store called Zara. They could not be more different in terms of style and approach, but it’s the go-to shop for girls and guys my age. Zara is a more classy, elegant version of Urban Outfitters and sells a different identity, but the prices are similar. When comparing the quality of the clothes, however, there is no doubt that Zara’s clothes are much better made. This makes me wonder if the overpriced articles in Urban Outfitters are even worth paying for, given that the quality is just mediocre.

There is no doubt that Urban Outfitters isa huge success in American culture, but where is it headed in the future? Most of it’s costumers buy articles from there to be different and stand out in a crowd, but since it’s expanding and getting more societally common, a sort of paradox arises. Urban Outfitters is selling an image: the hipster mystique, which is based off of the 1960’s hippie. This identity is compromised when more and more people adopt this style. You want to benoticed and acknowledged amongst a group, but today that just seems counter-productive since the “hipster” aspect of this store is turning into “mainstream.”

Works Cited

N.A.. “Urban Outfitters, Fashion Victim.” Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine. Bloomberg L.P., 16 Jul. 2006. Web. 1 Oct. 2013.



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