Make no mistake: while everyone who works at Death & Taxes is extremely fucking attractive and dresses awesomely, we have it in for a couple of clothing stores. One: the Fashion Bug in Glendale, CA – yet that is strictly for personal reasons. The second one is Urban Outfitters, because they donate money to anti-gay senators. But that bigotry isn’t what I’m here to talk about. Not here. Not in this article.
Anyway. Sometimes you need a damn shirt. Which is where this story starts.
For those of you who don’t live in New York you should know that although this city is most famous for scarves-and-jackets kind of weather, you should also know that it gets as hot as balls here in the summer. Not just hot: but humid, too. It’s inspires the kind of swamp ass that feels like your underwear region is coated heavily in peanut butter.
So I’m walking along, and it’s sweaty, and I have a meeting to go to. I realize my shirt looks as though I’ve run seven miles uphill in it – it’s white, and thus the shirt is becoming see through. Second only to Tara Reid, men’s nipples are something that should not be seen, ever, especially when you least expect it. So as I walk down 14th St I dash into the closest store I can find: Urban Outfitters.
I hadn’t been in there in about a year, when I’d purchased a hoody for $65 because, fuck it man, “the recession” and all that, and also, “shopping while hungover” helped too. Ah, the good ol’ drinking days. Anyway. This time, though, a year on, it felt strange – unusual – different. I looked around. Something was off. They were selling pre-studded sleeveless jean vests.
Not to trifle with “hey man, Minor Threat can never be topped” bullshit punk scene dynamics, but holy shit, isn’t the whole point of being counter-culture not to spend $130 on something you’re supposed to make yourself for a third of that price??? I’m aware of Levis making a jean vest, but pre-studded? Fuck that.
After practically weeping out loud into the arms of a buxomed passerby, I ventured downstairs, into the men’s section. I immediately noticed a shit ton of wifebeater style shirts, cleverly printed with all sorts of decorum – the sort of shit that you’d imagine the employees of Opening Ceremony wear to a BBQ. In 1993. With Chløe Sevigny. On the moon.
There was also a slew of t-shirts, all trying to be “funny.” Now, a man should only have one “funny” shirt. That shirt can be a cat with the words ‘Nice Pussy’ underneath, or what have you. One thing that can get a chuckle when you wear it every once in a while. A man with a closet full of “funny” shirts outside of freshman year of college is most certainly either an idiot or sartorially hosed. I fully endorse a good, clever t-shirt. But irony for the sake of irony is patheticity incarnate.
At risk of sounding like an older hipster, out-of-touch with today’s youth, allow me to be the first to admit that I think Passion Pit sounds like the kind of music you’d listen to if you took an Ambien before being forcibly circumcised by a rusty nail. I’m 28. I’m old. I don’t “get it.” But I do get people looking like fucking idiots. Which is precisely what Urban Outfitters propagates.
I realized that it had always been this way and that I’d been blinded by the thought of “youth” culture as a viable concept. Yeah, I know that’s a fucking long-winded way of saying “FUCKIN’ CORPORATIONS, BRO!” but goddam, if I could turn back time to 2002 and stop myself spending $(a lot) on dumb graphic tees?
Then it hit me: Urban Outfitters was never going to change. It’s for kids in their early 20′s (and younger kids who want to look like kids in their early 20′s) who haven’t developed actual taste and need it curated for them. It’s not “good.” It’s basically Walmart for young people that aspire to a liberal arts degree – it’s a one-stop shop for everything “counter-culture” without actually ever having to delve into the “counter culture” itself.
I realized, staring at a $40 pair of Corona™ beer branded flip flops, that I was too old to be there. I felt the kind of deep inner guilt that comes when you accidentally walk into the wrong gender’s bathroom, the kind where you have to verbally say “Oh, shit, I’m sorry” and then immediately leave.
“Can I help you?” said a rail-thin guy who looked a little like Anderson Cooper and a lot like the skinny side of a door.
“No. I Have To Leave. I’m sorry,” I speak-yelled at him, and turned and practically fled to the safety of 14th Avenue, with no shirt, still sweaty.
That’s when you know: you’re too old for Urban Outfitters.