The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

98° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “In the beginning, there was vintage”

    In the beginning, there was vintage

    When Allison Dumka, a political science junior, walks into the room, anyone can see that she is a girl with a sense of style.

    But unlike so many others on the UA campus, Dumka does not follow the masses by wearing Juicy velour, Rainbows or what the mannequin in the front window of Urban Outfitters is wearing.

    “”For me, it’s not just about being trendy, it’s cultivating a sense of originality,”” Dumka said.

    “”I don’t want to look like everybody else. I don’t think you can buy style.””

    Dumka is what you might call a “”thrifter.”” Whether it’s Goodwill (or as she likes to say, “”Greatwill””), St. Vincent de Paul, Value Village on Fourth Avenue or Buffalo Exchange, she gets a thrill out of every great find.

    And while she enjoys it, she is good at it too. Dumka achieves what can sometimes be a challenging task: throwing on thrift store clothing in a fashionable way. She admits, however, that it is nearly impossible to dress in strictly thrift. For example, she was once seen wearing a slip dress from H&M with her pre-’60s vintage tank top (thrift) and $7 cowboy boots (thrift).

    Although Dumka makes it clear that she does not feel that she is above retail clothing and admits to buying it, she does have her gripes with one particular store: Urban Outfitters.

    As many have probably already observed as they pass the two-story shop on University Boulevard, Urban Outfitters carries everyday “”street”” clothing, home decor and novelty items that aim to sell to the 18- to 30-year-old crowd. Much of what they carry, clothing in particular, has a vintage aesthetic to it.

    For example, a navy blue Penn State T-shirt in that “”worn”” cotton material seems like it’s been sitting in a big brother’s drawer for years. Or a vest (vests are a hot item at Urban right now) made of distressed denim, poses as vintage for a mere $68.

    “”The bottom line is it is faux vintage. It is just so obvious that it is new,”” Dumka said.

    For some, grievances with Urban go beyond it being a thrift poser but an ideology poser as well.

    According to a 2004 article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Urban Outfitters’ President Richard Hayne donated over $13,000 to the international chain’s homebase senator, Rick Santorum, R-Pa.

    Sure, Mr. Hayne has the freedom to support whichever political party he chooses, but some would argue that the principles Santorum supports are not the same as those of their customers.

    It has also been rumored that Urban Outfitters steals from independent designers. A Boston Herald article earlier this year told the story of emerging designer Johnny Earle, who is best known for his Johnny Cupcakes T-shirts that incorporate the baked good into recognizable archetypes. He claims that Urban ripped off his cupcake motif for their own merchandise when he refused to sell them the idea.

    However, while some are put off by the high prices, the overly trendy pieces or even Urban’s alleged moral infractions, business continues to generate.

    Pre-communications sophomore Sarah Lipman enjoys the uniqueness that Urban’s merchandise puts forth.

    “”I think I like it because it’s different stuff. Not cookie cutter, like Abercrombie,”” Lipman said.””There is a lot of stuff that is really expensive, but if you wait for it to go on sale, there are some good deals.””

    Undeclared sophomore Lauren Robbennolt agrees that Urban’s prices are somewhat steep, but prefers looking vintage without having to deal with the other aspects that go along with shopping thrift.

    “”You can buy it (vintage-inspired clothing) new and not have to go through the whole ‘who wore this and what did they do in it?'”” Robbennolt said.

    While Urban Outfitters is probably the most well-known for their secondhand looks, many other mainstream chains have jumped on the bandwagon.

    Mark Festermaker, a political science senior and an employee at Pacific Sunwear in the Park Place Mall, has noticed a change in the styles from what is usually skater and surfer themed.

    “”They are moving more towards the vintage looks,”” Festermaker said.

    “”They have what they call ‘thin-fit’ t-shirts which are a lot like the ones at Urban, but that’s not what I wear.””

    Whether somebody chooses to dish out the bucks for the convenience that stores like Urban Outfitters provide in looking ‘vintage-hip,’ or saves some change by sifting through thrift stores, UA students are putting in the effort to be fashion-conscious.

    “”It [fashion] can be very literal about your thought process. It says something about you,”” Dumka said.

    Dumka recalls one woman in particular from one of her classes. Even though she had an unflattering style of dress, Dumka appreciated her creative spirit.

    “”I would so much rather see something fucking ugly than a sea of Abercrombie,”” she said.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search