The Urban Outfitters store in Herald Square has taken their store up a notch, or should I say taken up 57,000 square feet. The new outpost of Urban Outfitters is offering a much larger experience: the Urban Lifestyle. Not only does the store include extensive women’s and men’s clothing departments, but they have expanded to include athletic wear, a record store, a coffee shop, housewares, a make-up shop, a full hair salon, a bookstore, and a huge shoe department. Many of these are supported by outside brands and companies. When I first heard that the store included all of these things, I was quite skeptical, so I set out on a recent weekend to explore the store.
Upon your entrance to the store, they have a few women’s clothing displays, mixed with shoes, bags, and other Urban Outfitters trinkets – on this visit I found exorbitantly overpriced maps of the best cupcakes in NYC and the Humans of New York book, among other things.
To the right is the attached coffee shop, Intelligentsia Coffee, which was originally based in Chicago but opened this location as its first New York outpost. I didn’t try the coffee, but the place was quite busy and seemed to have a big selection of salads, snacks, and bottled juices as well as the typical offerings. The baristas gave off a strong hipster vibe with their suspenders and fedoras.
In terms of clothing on the main floor, the store had an Urban Renewal section – Urban Outfitter’s vintage outpost. It seemed to have a pretty big selection, although I think almost every piece of clothing ranged between white and beige in terms of color, plus some denim thrown in. The styles seemed rather limited, but good if you like the type of clothing they had stocked.
Also on the main floor is Without Walls, a brand or athletic and adventure clothing that has been taken under the Urban Outfitter’s wing. The section was very large and had both menswear and womenswear. While there was definitely quite a bit fo Without Walls brand clothing, there was also North Force, Olympia Activewear, as well as yoga brands like Onzie and Teeki. There was a full-size old-school camper set up in the middle with sleeping bags and camping gear in bright rainbow shades (probably not suitable for real-life camping in the outdoors, where mud and dirt would ruin the pink and white patterned blankets). On the back wall, full size tents were set up above hiking boots and a wide selection on backpacks. Large letters painted on the wall read, “The Adventure Begins…”. It seems Urban Outfitters is telling us to go hit the trails and get out of our urban world.
If getting out of the city makes you shake in your boots, don’t worry. There was an extensive make up section with many Korean brands mixed in with some more well-known brands. Behind the make-up displays is the Hairroin hair salon, a Los Angles brand that Urban has incorporated into this location. You can’t wander about inside unless you have an actual appointment, but there were multiple people getting dye-jobs, so it must be somewhat legitimate. Also over in this section of the store is an eyewear outpost by Tortoise and Blonde where you can bring your prescription and get glasses (both regular and shades) starting at $97 according to their advertisement.
Also on the main floor (can you tell how massive this place is yet?) is a mini-record shop. The record section is presented by California indie-brand Amoeba music and seemed to have a pretty wide range of selection from your typical 2014 titles – Sam Smith, The 1975, Arctic Monkeys – as well more vintage titles, Amoeba Records says that they have 400 vintage titles only available at the NYC location. There was also a large Crosley turntables and Urban Ears headphones. There was also a small bookshop in the back corner stocked with some fluffy, light reads as well as stationary and some random phone cases in a side display.
Downstairs there was the menswear section that seemed pretty large. There was denim for days, as well as a sizeable shoe selection with acres of Converse. Prior to my venture I had heard word of a Converse printing station where you could put white shoes in and it would paint them according to your wishes but to my great disappointment I could not find it. The clothing seemed to be organized by brand with big hanging signs above which I thought was a nice touch.
Upstairs is the main women’s department, with a humongous shoe section. They had tons of brands ranging from Hunter boots to Vagabond to Adidas to Birkenstocks. I wanted to spend all day in the shoe section, which was pretty cleanly organized with all white counters despite the mass quantity of footwear. If you are searching endlessly for the dressing rooms, they are all the way past the shoe section which was a bit inconvenient.
The main part of the floor is a pretty large womenswear department. I didn’t notice the organization by brands, which disappointed me a bit because it made the room a little hard to shop in due to the vast amount of clothing. There was also a pretty large lounge and intimates section as well. The one downside I found was that the sale section was miniscule in relation to the size of the store and shoved in the way back. Upstairs also housed a large jewelry display and a rather cluttered home section – why they felt the need to have three full tables displaying little but candles I was unsure.
Overall, it seemed like the Urban Lifestyle store had made an effort to bring a lot of indie brands, attempting to up its indie-rock cred as well as pull in their current shoppers more by expanding their offerings. It really did seem as if they were creating the “Urban Lifestyle”, in that I probably could have bought anything I wanted to shop for there. There were also fun touches around the store like a bike repair machine, a healthy snack vending machine, multiple photo booths and an Instagram-printing station that made it a fun experience to even be in the store. Also, I spotted Wiz Khalifa strolling around the space and checking out the music section, so apparently the store is celebrity approved. The good news for the tired shopper is that there was plenty of comfy seating around (tested by yours truly), because getting through all 57,000 square feet of the store is quite a bit of work. If you set out to take part in the Urban Outfitter’s lifestyle, be sure to come energized and with a lot of time, it’s a commitment!
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