Urban Outfitters buys clothes at yard sales and flea markets and then sells them in stores as “vintage.” The retailer has done this for years, usually selling the used goods as promotions for about two weeks.
But an incredulous shopper recently posted a picture on Reddit of a tag attached to one of the items. It reads “this unique found item was hand-selected for you from a yard sale or flea market. Any tears, holes, paint stains or other ‘defects’ we consider a virtue and not a flaw. Wear it well.”
On Reddit, the post garnered thousands of comments. The general sentiment was that it’s dumb to pay a huge mark-up for something a shopper could get at a Goodwill or Salvation Army store for under $5.
“Urban Outfitters putting on some crazy markup and charging $50 for a shirt you could’ve gotten for $5,” one commenter noted. “They’re basically selling old clothes to people for a new clothes price, and calling it vintage.”
Urban Outfitters sent us this statement:
“Our One-Of-A-Kind Vintage collection is a curated selection of vintage items that our buyers have found throughout their travels from various cities and locations. The items featured are carefully selected and handpicked by our buyers for their quality and uniqueness. In many cases, the items are designer labels. In the past we have featured vintage finds by Armani, Missoni, Pendleton, Dooney & Bourke, Ungaro, Norma Kamali and more. In no way are these items manufactured or reproduced for mass resale. They are truly one-of-a-kind, which means that once they’re gone, they’re gone. I would also like to note that the hangtag you referenced in the article is a hangtag for One-Of-A-Kind Vintage product only. A separate hangtag is used from Urban Renewal items.”
Hipsters aren’t just lining up to buy items curated from yard sales. We interviewed a “vintage seller” at the Artists & Fleas market in Williamsburg, Brooklyn about how he got his merchandise.
He was selling vintage Lacoste and Polo sweaters for $45.
“Basically I just go to Texas once a year, go to the Goodwill store in a nice suburban neighbourhood, and load up on stuff that just costs a few dollars,” he said. “Then I come here and people go crazy for it.”
Thus, the sweater of a banker dad in the suburbs of Texas can end up being worn by a Brooklyn millennial.
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