For Stores Like Urban Outfitters, Discover These 9 Startup Alternatives

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Explore these fresh alternative stores like Urban Outfitters for everything from fashion to home wares to vinyl to vintage.

If you’re looking to branch out from Urban Outfitters, the internet offers a wide variety of options.

About Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters has succeeded by assembling an eclectic mix of nostalgia-inducing, comfortable clothing and graphic tees for women and men alongside going-out tops and fast-fashion dresses, kitschy home goods, beauty products, vinyl and cassette tapes, retro games, and up-cycled vintage pieces.

Where else can you go to find high-waisted girlfriend jeans and bodycon dresses for women alongside thick-wale corduroy pants for men and Aerosmith vinyl?

While there’s much to like, Urban Outfitters can be hit-or-miss and their brick-and-mortar stores can appear picked over at times. In the past, I’ve searched high and low for their BDG corduroy pants only to find that my size was unavailable online or in my local store.

Below you’ll find a wealth of stores like Urban Outfitters, whether you’re looking for casual clothing, fast fashion, homewares, vintage or vinyl.

History of URBN

But first, let’s review the history of Urban Outfitters.

College roommates Dick Hayne and Scott Belair along with Judy Wicks opened Urban Outfitters’ first store in 1970 near the University of Pennsylvania with a mission to “provide second-hand clothing, furniture, jewelry and home décor for college-aged customers in a casual fun environment.”

In the 50 years since, the company has grown dramatically with locations in cities and college towns across the United States.

In 1992, Urban Outfitters branched out to launch Anthropologie, which was conceived as “a lifestyle brand that catered to creative, educated and affluent 30-45 year-old women.” In 2002, Urban Outfitters branched out again to launch Free People, a separate brand dedicated to vintage and Boho-inspired fashion for women.

Since 1993, Urban Outfitters has been a publicly-traded company, trading on NASDAQ under the ticker URBN.

Urban Outfitters’ house brands and initiatives

The company stocks its own labels alongside well-known brands from Champion to Billabong to Motel.

Urban Outfitters maintains several exclusive brands and initiatives:

  1. UO – Urban Outfitters, or UO for short, is the company’s main exclusive clothing label. Under the UO label, Urban Outfitters carries a vast range of clothing. UO’s women’s line is at turns cozy (hooded puffer jackets), kitschy (plaid flare pants), cute (floral satin-wrap skirts) and alluring (cowl-neck slip dresses). For men, look for nostalgic pieces such as double-pleated courduroy pants, mock neck long sleeve t-shirts, blue plaid scarves, yellow retro notch neck hoodie sweatshirts, striped rugby shirts, knit beanies, and chunky, thick-heeled Chelsea boots.
  2. BDG is Urban Outfitters’ in-house brand meant to give classics like denim and casualwear “an original twist.” In addition to denim (everything from skate jeans to high-waisted mom jeans to embroidered denim trucker jackets), look to BDG for cropped t-shirts for women, linen button down shirts and corduroy pants for guys and quilted shirt jackets and fisherman beanies.
  3. Out from Under is another exclusive Urban Outfitters’ brand that the company describes as “so fashion-forward, you’ll want to wear it out.” Out from Under features a wide selection of super-affordable intimates including micro-fusion hipster and “pillow talk” thong underwear and bras and lounge pants. The brand also maintains a slew of interesting clothing options from knitted skorts to ruched high-neck camis.
  4. Urban Renewal is Urban Outfitters’ effort to repurpose or up-cycle vintage clothing finds. Urban Renewal isn’t so much a brand as a program, which sells some items like Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers as they are, and gives new life and style, or up-cycles, a ton of other merchandise like vintage golf cardigans, recycled acid-wash boyfriend shirts, and overdyed sweatpants.

Urban Outfitters under scrutiny

Urban Outfitters’ parent company, URBN, has also come under scrutiny amid accusations that employees racially-profiled customers in its Anthropologie stores. According to CNN, URBN “used a theft prevention policy that instructed workers to identify potential shoplifters using code words such as “Nick,” “Nicky” and “Nicole.”” Those codewords were “largely directed at people of color, particularly Black customers,” according to Buzzfeed News.

The company posted a letter to the community saying that “we owe you more, and we owe it to our diverse team of employees to hold ourselves accountable.”

URBN has pledged to better represent the Black community, amplify Black voices, speak out against racism and police brutality, and committed to a series of internal reviews, strategies, mandatory diversity trainings and support for nonprofits.

Alternative stores like Urban Outfitters

If you are looking for other options, here is a list of promising stores like Urban Outfitters along with reasons why each of these alternatives deserves your attention.

Everlane

Everlane is an elevated alternative to Urban Outfitters for everyday basics and occasional vintage-inspired finds.

San Francisco, California-based Everlane is one of my all-time favorite clothing brands and an excellent example of the kind of direct-to-consumer e-commerce brand cutting out the middleman from from fashion.

Everlane is a super-solid bet for basics from t-shirts and chinos for men to jeans to jeans and casual dresses for women. (I particularly like Everlane as an option for cashmere sweaters. I have several of them and have nothing but good things to say: They’re soft, durable, resist pilling and drape well.)

Increasingly, Everlane is also a promising bet for vintage-inspired clothing. Think utility Chelsea boots in contrasting white and black leather, golden brown organic cotton long-sleeve turtleneck waffle tees and brick-red corduroy cord jackets for women. For vintage-inspired finds for men, Try felted merino cardigans, teal-and-slate-tinged bomber jackets and super-affordable low-top canvas sneakers.

Outerknown

Outerknown is an upgraded (and more expensive) alternative to Urban Outfitters for comfy, functional clothing for men and women constructed from eco-friendly fibers.

Like Urban Outfitters, I love that Outerknown sparks a sense of nostalgia with its clothing for women and men.

Outerknown makes flowy, flower-printed Oceana dresses, button-down corduroy jumpsuits, cozy hoodies and oversized cardigan sweaters for women (which also makes them a great alternative to J. Crew). For men, Outerknown sells a campy, striped “nostalgic sweater,” cozy blanket shirts, and cinched corduroy pants. (The company also produces great activewear and is one of my favorite alternatives to lululemon for athleisure clothing.)

Founded in 2015 by designer John Moore and Surfer Kelly Slater, Outerknown is an attempt to disrupt “the fashion landscape by making a true connection between sustainability and style.” 

Nab a 15% discount off your Outerknown order by signing up for emails on the company’s website.

Bershka

Part of the Spain-based Inditex group that owns Zara and Massimo Dutti, Bershka caters to digital natives and millennial shoppers with a heady mix of 90’s nostalgia.

For women, explore Urban Outfitter-like “bComfy” basics, denim, bold dresses and statement shoes for women. For men, there’s everything from light-wash, wide-leg 90’s jeans and faux-suede jackets decked out with faux shearling accents to oversized sweaters.

Berksha also specializes in kitschy clothing collaborations. As of this writing, the brand is featuring clothing in collaboration with the likes of Billie Eilish, The Powerpuff Girls and Mickey Mouse along with an AC/DC laminated bodysuit. Wowsers.

Unique Vintage

For vintage-inspired clothing, Unique Vintage is a great alternative to Urban Outfitters.

Founded by entrepreneur Katie Echeverry as a side hustle in 2000, Unique Vintage “celebrates the iconic, flirty fashion of the past with modern, ready-to-wear designs.”

Unique Vintage is a trove of vintage-inspired fashion for women including a bow blouse, a huge range of flapper, maxi, wrap, sweater, flare and pencil dresses, rompers, jumpsuits, swimsuits, wedding dresses, costumes and tons of velvet.

Their smaller collection for men includes the likes of a 1950s-inspired olive green cable-knit sweater vest, navy and ivory plaid pants, retro red adjustable suspenders and Suavecito pomade for that shiny, slicked-back look.

Etsy

If it’s actual vintage you’re after, Etsy is an excellent digital store like Urban Outfitters.

It can take some effort to uncover everything the site’s small business and startup sellers have to offer, but Etsy’s vintage section has everything from a women’s goat fir coat and high-waisted jeans to men’s flannel shirts and trucker jackets to jewelry and old postcards. Etsy also carries a nice selection of vintage vinyl, cassette tapes and CDs.

Abercrombie and Fitch

Abercrombie has had its ups and downs over the years, but its current lineup of clothing for women and men offers and interesting alternative to Urban Outfitters for sweats, t-shirts, and nostalgia-inspired pieces.

Look for comfortable women’s clothing like a cozy mockneck sweater, ruffle-waist joggers and faux-fir sherpa coat made from recycled polyester, as well as cute dresses, skirts and pants like this pale pink ruffle-hem wrap dress.

Abercrombie also specializes in cozy layers for guys like marled shawl collar sweaters, primaloft puffer jackets and thick, button-down flannel shirts, as well as retro-looking pieces like a sherpa-collar denim jacket and faux-suede trucker jacket.

They also make nice-looking lightweight crew sweatshirts and hoodies, a ton of t-shirts (with their little logo over the heart) and a wide range of denim for men and women.

Hot Topic

Hot Topic carries a lot of the kinds of fast fashion and pop culture-inspired clothing, games and home furnishings you might expect to find at a store like Urban Outfitters.

Orv and LeAnn Madden founded Hot Topic out of their garage in Southern California in October 1989 to capitalize on the rise of MTV-inspired music fandom. The company’s stores have been a mainstay of malls around the United States. Its focus has careened over the years from everything from goth fashion to nu-metal merchandise.

For fashion, try Hot Topic for jeans as well as a dizzying assortment of graphic t-shirts for men and women; skater skirts, plaid pants and themed leggings for women and hoodies, and wild short-sleeve button-up shirts for men.

Hot Topic is particularly strong as an Urban Outfitters alternative for quirky homewares, lifestyle goods and gifts. See their selection of Harry Potter Hogwarts pillows, Billy Eilliesh throws, Disney table clocks, and other bedroom accessories; pop-culture board, card and video games; character-themed cookware including kitchen mugs, glasses, waffle-makers, and ramen bowls, TV and movie-inspired canvas wall art, and and occasional vinyl offerings.

Billabong

Hear me out. I know Billabong is primarily known as a clothing and gear company for surfers. But look closer and you’ll find clothing for men and women that echo some of the offerings at a store like Urban Outfitters.

For women, Billabong carriers flared-leg jumpsuits, low-cut cinched-waist rompers, denim overalls, mini, midi and maxi dresses and cozy, oversized sweaters.

For men, Billabong has earthy flannels, comfy crewneck sweaters and hoodies, cuffed sweatpants, baggy chinos and “outsider” corduroy pants.

Ok, you won’t find waffle-makers or vinyl like you might at Urban Outfitters’ stores but, even so, I’m convinced Billabong presents a great alternative to UO. (Actually, Billabong is one of the brands that Urban Outfitters carriers in its stores.)

Discogs

If you’re looking for an alternative to Urban Outfitters for vinyl, it’s hard to beat Discogs.

The site is a massive online music database and e-commerce platform connecting buyers and sellers of vinyl, cassette tapes and CDs. I enjoy browsing through their extensive listings, poking around to reclaim old favorite records that did not survive my parents’ move to a new house.

What is your favorite alternative to Urban Outfitters?

Let me know about your favorite store like Urban Outfitters in the comments.


About Jake

Jake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age.  Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and/or fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.

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