WTF Weds: The Urban Outfitters Holiday Catalog

Posted on
Dec 12, 2012


OMG. This is EXACTLY what Christmas morning looks like at our house.

Apparently a lot of folks are currently outraged at Urban Outfitters for their most recent catalog, which is full of expletive-filled products. The hub-bub seems a bit unfounded. Let’s be fair – how can one celebrate the birth of Christ without a giant banner that reads “Merry Christmas Bitches”?

This season, they seem to be offering a wide array of “edgy” products that have people up in arms. Like these photo albums:

“I’m totally buying this for my in-laws!” – no one

You know what? A “BYOB” can full of gummi bears is actually a brilliant idea. I should keep several in my car in case of emergencies.

Or this festive little candle, which I’m sure would look great in your stepmother’s guest bathroom:

And what holiday season would be complete without a glass featuring Santa that reads, “Merry Christmas, Bitches”? (Seriously, I’m sensing a theme, here.)

I’m gonna get this for all the Jews in my life!

This stuff doesn’t really bother me. On a good day, I swear like a sailor. On a bad day, I could make Samuel L. Jackson blush.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m happy with Urban Outfitters – I’m fed up, though for entirely different reasons. Over the last decade, the store went from being one I adored (but could not afford in the starving years of my early 20s) to one that I am distinctly too old for. It is a indication of the relentless passing of time, much like when I realized the Olson Twins had gotten boobies.

Needless to say, I am suitably horrified.

Last time I visited Urban Outfitters (or “UO”, as I presume the kids would say, since they seem to hate spelling things out. AMIRITE?), the manager, who was easily a decade my junior, asked me if I was looking for a gift for someone. The unspoken message was that I was way, waaaay too old to be buying stuff for myself.

I mumbled something about how I had wandered away during our senior home outing, and proceeded to admire what I thought was a belt. It turned out to be a mini-skirt.

(Also, when did midriffs come back in? I thought, like the Leprechaun canon, we said goodbye to those horrors in the mid-nineties.)

Aghast, I retreated towards the door, mumbling something about how I needed to be home before Jeopardy!

I’ve pretty much stopped shopping at UO altogether, except to purchase the occasional “granny-style sweater” (worn unironically!), but I do still receive their catalog. It makes me feel positively ancient.

The worst part of it – more so than the clothing – is the scenarios that play out therein, the Lord-of-the-Flies-like vignettes that make me want to scream, “NO, CHILDREN, NO.”

Dear god, I am old. And so keep that in mind: this post contains the ramblings of an old person. If you don’t like it, simply smile and nod, and get me a glass of hot tea. The way you would when your grandmother starts yelling at TV commercials.

This is how the catalog begins: with the image of a young woman, sitting atop a phone booth in the middle of the woods.

Let’s ignore the obvious hair-pulling observations that one could make about this scene (“Why is there a phone booth in the woods?” “If she’s cold enough to wear a hat and gloves, WHY IS HER SHIRT SLEEVELESS?”) and instead focus on what she’s doing: she’s making a phone call on her cell. While sitting a top a phonebooth. And if you look closely, she’s apparently plugged an old-fashioned telephone receiver into her cell phone.

That is now a thing, in case you were wondering.

The phone is yellow leopard print because … because … THERE IS NO REASON.

Dear god, we’ve just started, and I already need to lie down.

Let’s move on … to a bunch of young people delightfully hurling presents into the water.

“ZOMG! Bourgeoisie excess is SO much fun!”


Everyone knows that kids imitate stuff they see on TV, movies, and in trendy catalogs. Our rivers are now going to be FLOODED with unopened Christmas gifts, and we’re going to have indigenous wildlife choking on ribbon and lace panties.

That is no way to die. (Unless maybe you are Keith Richards.)

Seriously, who is taking care of these kids? They’re clearly neglected. In this scene, these little urchins are so hungry, so lacking in social graces, that they’ve taken to eating turkey right off the carcass.

I actually can’t judge them too harshly for this, as it’s my preferred method for eating cake.

I suppose it’s just good to see them eating. But honestly, what if they had to have dinner with the Queen, or someone equally fancy, like Martha Stewart or Mr. Belvedere?

I’m sincerely worried about these kids. They seem to be out in the woods, but I’m not sure they have the skills to survive out there. Take this poor girl at the top of this snuggly scene, who appears to be freezing:

Did no one teach her about pants? I can almost guarantee they warm you up more than no pants.

And when, pray tell, did it become acceptable to stop matching our socks together? Do you know what my parole officer would say if she saw me running around like this?


(Note: At this point, I just started screaming directly at people in the catalog. Because clearly their mothers aren’t around to do it.)

Just what the hell were you thinking, missy? WE HAVE FAMILY PHOTOS IN TWENTY MINUTES. Also, you’d better not get glitter marker on the couch because you know how your father feels about glitter. Also, HIS NAME IS DAD AND NOT “ROBERT”. CUT THAT FIRST NAME CRAP OUT.

On an entirely unrelated note, your cardigan is cute.

While I appreciate the handiwork that went into it, this is NOT how we use frosting, young lady. We PUT THAT ON CAKES, which we then eat in a completely non-sexy way, while wearing pajamas that are oversized and equally non-sexy.

And I feel like a broken record here, but PANTS. IT IS DECEMBER. PUT THEM ON.


NO NO NO YOU AREN’T EVEN ACTUALLY KISSING EACH OTHER. You are just mashing your faces together in an attempt to look cute. Which is arguably working quite well, but STILL.

Fine. This is pretty damn adorable. What product are they selling again?

Sigh. All this CapsLock yelling is exhausting. Can we see something a little less shout-inducing?

Aww, you look upset. Did someone take your bike? Huh, little guy?

Okay, you know what? This young man is adorable. He almost makes me forget my rage. Seriously, doll-face, call me in 20 years when you are old enough to grow some chest hair, okay?

Wait. Wait. WAIT. There’s something by your ear. What is that?

I just need a closer look. That can’t be what I think it is.


See? This is the stuff that should be worry us about the Urban Outfitters catalog. Cussing I have no problem with (here’s proof: Crap. Piss. Wiener. Hee.)

But if the children are our future, and they can’t be persuaded to put on trousers (or, hell, LEGGINGS. I will settle for leggings as pants at this point), and they keep running around in mismatched socks while throwing things into rivers and kissing mulleted boys and …

Sigh. Whatever. I guess the future is screwed. I need a drink.

Leave a Comment

  • Jay

    Oh this made me laugh!

    Although I do wonder about these folks all up in arms over their catalogue – have they every browsed through the books at Urban Outfitters? They’re always naughty and filled with expletives. My husband and I go in just for a good laugh when we’re annoyed with shopping.

  • Ed

    WTF indeed…

  • Just a few weeks ago I saw a young college kid eating an entire rotisserie chicken in front of the grocery store. But he had pants on, so I let it slide. THIS TIME.

  • Oh my good lord this is genius! I despise pants and I still look like a high schooler so I might still be able to pull this crap off but WHY would one want to do such an idiotic thing. I’m not religious and I swear like a sailor as well so it doesn’t offend me but holy crap attack this just doesn’t make any sense.

    You post though…it makes perfect sense. Well said.

  • I’m 23…okay I’m 24 in 2 weeks and I’m probably way past their target age demographic! sigh!

  • Janet T

    I think even my 21 year old daughter outgrew this “shock” type of thing and this store years ago. Maybe they have 14 year olds running their marketing campaign- that would explain the lack of pants on the girls at least.

  • Watching an establishment desperately clinging to their last shreds or relevance is train-wreckery at its finest. I suppose they are trying to get in on some of that “a porn movie is about to happen” aesthetic of American Apparel?

  • The AARP catalogue is similarly risque.

  • RiderWriter

    Seriously, woman, I don’t know HOW you do it – come up with comedy gold day after day. You need to get a job with Leno or Letterman! My favorite line today is, “unless you are Keith Richards.” Awesome!

    I have heard of Urban Outfitters but have never been in a store nor seen their catalog. Don’t feel like I’m missing much. I read about the brou-ha-ha over American Apparel’s catalog earlier this year, what with the half-nekkid tween-age girls, so I guess UO is competing with them to raise to biggest controversy. Thanks to the hype, they’re probably both now selling way more of their (stupid, overpriced) crap. 🙁

  • WAIT! You mean at 53 I am too old to still be buying my clothes at UO?! Maybe this explains the odd looks I get from my neighbors 🙂

  • Is that really not you in the far left of the snuggly scene??

  • Kokopuff

    I am a big fan of no pants around the holidays. The waistband gets pretty tight after all those eggnog shooters and fruitcake nuggets.

  • I had no idea that they sold all of that stuff – i.e. the books and drinking glasses. I think there would be some great gag gifts to purchase. But, all of that definitely gave me little hiccup on the age meter at a very young 48.

  • Looks like a well planned and obviously successful linkbuilding campaign to me

  • Turkey and milk though?

  • If you were to take a survey, I wonder how many of the UO catalog models would know who Keith Richards is.There is an UO about a block and a half from our Center City Philadelphia apartment. I stop in sometimes and the people actually buying things are definitely young enough to be my children. However, my children were brought up to be frugal (cheap?), so they shop next door at H&M. No curse words on the merchandise there, but judging by the prices, the clothes and accessories must be made by enslaved children in an unsafe workplace far away from any OSHA oversight.

  • Having passed a few more “Rocking New Years Eve with Dick Clark” than you I, simply feel a little sad for this and upcoming generations.
    In the 60’s (Yup I’m that old) there was a kettle full of traditions and social mores to ridicule. Today kids are trying to shock their parents who snorted coke off toilet seats at the Whiskey and were there at the start of rap (note: the new benchmark on the Aztec Calender for the end of civilization).
    “Whoo Hoo we’re wearing really bad Christmas sweaters from China and NO PANTS!!!”
    Being hip never felt like so much work.

  • PUT YOUR BLIMMIN’ PANTS ON!!! Oh WTF indeed. Isn’t that one of those old British Phone Boxes? What are they selling again?

  • Colleen

    This reminds me of the whole Abercrombie & Fitch debacle. A clothing company who makes their sales by creating objectionable materials that are geared towards the younger crowd. I am 29, and I stopped shopping at A&F when I was nineteen. Don’t feel old, I share your opinions. And if mullets are back, I am moving to Europe.

  • Sarah

    I haven’t been their store since high school. From the advertising, I understand that they do not sell pants anymore. I do want that cardigan though.

  • Christina

    OMG, this post made me almost spit out my coffee. I have to say I find comfort in seeing you post this since I know you are younger than me and UO (as the kids call it) makes me feel multiple decades past their audience. I too remember going in and shopping for fun stuff and then something happened, I got significantly older in the last 10 years or they have changed their demographic to tween minded fetuses.

    Honestly, the rage I feel must equal your own. No mullets, please, no. We’ve had to endure the come back of neon, midriffs, bubble skirts, 80’s boots, all of it. I’m watching my teenage years play out before me, but I put my foot down when it comes to mullets.

  • I barely know what Urban Outfitters is, and I wouldn’t know if I’ve ever been there.

    Yeah, i’ll say it: I think they’re distasteful. Yeah, I’m an old-school rebel!

    Dang, that didn’t work… I’m not cool enough to go there, and I’m not cool enough to be a rebel.

  • T

    22 here and I said WHAT THE HELL the entire time I read their stupid catalog! Wow. Just wow!

  • I am just about dying here! Even though I have never been to Urban Outfitters (no, I’m not THAT old, only from Germany), but I can totally relate to how you’re feeling there and why you want to yell at the people in their catalogue. Seriously, there’s something completely wrong.
    However, I still appreciate the effort they have made because clearly they were sending you the catalogue for entertaining purposes. There could not possibly be anything on TV these days that makes you laugh harder!

  • Anisa

    OMG! This is freaking hilarious. I’ve never been to a UO but it looks just as bad as Hollister with half naked models on the bags and gift cards. Please keep up the good work. I look forward to my daily laugh.

  • Lila

    Actually, the kids do watch Jeopardy! I’m 17, frankly a pretty cool person, and I love shouting out some “who are’s” and “what is’s” once in a while.

    • Everywhereist

      Well, obviously if you watch Jeopardy you are awesome. You didn’t need to actually repeat that you were cool, since it’s kind of a given.

      Also, you are secretly probably 80, and not 17. I am sorry you had to find out this way.

  • Cat

    I agree completely with this line:

    “Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m happy with Urban Outfitters – I’m fed up, though for entirely different reasons. Over the last decade, the store went from being one I adored (but could not afford in the starving years of my early 20s) to one that I am distinctly too old for.”

    When I was in college at UVM they have an Urban Outfitters on Church Street and I always wanted to shop there but I was always really poor (I mean come on, college kid-only have money for beer!)

    Now I find myself shopping at stores like Ann Taylor, (and of course, I long to shop at J crew but I’m too poor for that too- wonder if I’ll ever get too old?) and I’m in my mid 20’s!!! I can’t say I’d walk into an Urban Outfitters and buy anything there now though, thats for sure.

    Interesting post. 🙂

  • This is too funny. I used to LOVE going to Urban Outfitters when I was (sadly) much younger and could waste valuable time on trying to look cool and imaging myself in some hip loft apartment (which I imagine you could pay for by looking cool and hip?).

    Tragically the last time I went to UO was on a trip to Las Vegas and they didn’t have anything that I could conceive of actually wearing, right down to the accessories. I just needed sunglasses and to have a pair that didn’t come in one of the 20 day-glo colors offered. Being cool seems like such a pain in the ass.

    I guess the future of pants is to not wear them at all or have them so tight it takes several of your friends to help put them on…and those are just the guy jeans.

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