This week, I went on a shopping trip to the Urban Outfitters east village location. I was on a mission to find a comfortable flannel button down, and although I didn’t find it, I did come across a couple other items that I really liked.

item 1

The first item was an off-white, flowy shawl. I was drawn to it because it reminded me of something a “flower child” or “hippie” would have worn in the 1960s or 70s. Or, at least what I know about that era in time. I was born many years after the period that this piece is channeling, so my understanding of that culture is very mediated and, as a result, romanticized. Urban Outfitters knows this, because the majority of their customers were born around the same time I was, and they have played up the nostalgia factor to make consumers like me feel as though we are embracing a particular moment in history. This shawl was no doubt designed with the “hippie” culture in mind, but more specifically, a media-curated version of that culture.

item 3

The next item I found was a black faux-leather mesh skirt. This really stuck out to me, more than almost anything else in the store, because it is so far out of my comfort zone when it comes to fashion. My set of tastes is usually very feminine and quirky, so purchasing an item like this was very much a departure from my consumer identity. Including a darker, edgier product in my repertoire was an omnivorous move for me as a consumer, because it came from a different cultural category than my other purchase. The creme-colored, cotton, embroidered shawl conveys a much different cultural meaning than the black, pleather mini skirt. In purchasing the latter, I was trying to show my eclecticism as a consumer.

item 4

I absolutely love dresses, and lately I’ve been trying to mix things up a bit with regard to my personal style, so this item was a great find! This was a very deliberate purchase on my part, in the sense that I bought it for the sole purpose of being an eclectic consumer. I like the idea of mixing different styles and putting seemingly opposite pieces together – for instance, one of my favorite looks is a girly dress paired with a vintage leather jacket. In buying this flannel, plaid dress I was exhibiting high cultural capital, in the sense that I valued the individuality and exoticism of the item over anything else. I made the purchase with the intention of exhibiting combinational inventiveness when it comes to style, which is very typical of an HCC consumer.

item 2

This floral, loose fitting shirt (dress?) was definitely my favorite item from the shopping trip, probably because it best fits my usual style. It is cut really nicely, and fits very comfortably, which I always appreciate. I also really like that it is a versatile piece, something I can wear on a number of different occasions. I also must mention the floral pattern, which I can rarely say no to! This was definitely a low cultural capital purchase, because I chose the item primarily for its comfort and practicality. This was also a less conscious purchase than the previous ones; this felt like a very natural pick for me, because it fit so well with my personal style and habitus.

It is very interesting to think about these purchases, and my shopping excursion, as a collective entity. All of these items, but particularly the first two, are very indicative of the store’s brand image. Urban Outfitters definitely positions itself as an individualistic, eccentric brand. Many of their items, such as the mesh skirt and the embroidered shawl, are essentially appropriations of glamorized sub-cultures. The store likes to take counter-culture fashion, like the “punk” and “hippie” looks, and bring it into the mainstream culture.