Urban Outfitters originated as "The Free People's Store" in 1970 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, focusing on "funky" fashion and household products. Shortlythereafter the owner and now Chairman, Richard Hayne, changed the name to Urban Outfitters. The product line has evolved from vintage, bohemian, retro, hipster, ironically humorous, kitschy apparel and furniture to include luxury brands and several designer collaborations.
Headquartered at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Urban Outfitters operates more than 140 locations in the United States, Canada, theRepublic of Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.
On November 27, 2009, the firm drew the attention of the Swedish press for denying collective bargaining rights to employees at their Stockholm store by making all 48 workers redundant and re-hiring them through employment agency Academic Work. In response to the move, ombudsman Jimmy Ekman called for tougherlaws to prevent other firms denying collective bargaining rights in this way
Urban Outfitters has been described as selling hip, kitschy, and ironic merchandise, for example, T-shirts emblazoned with the words "Jive Turkey" or "Atari". They are known for catering to "hipster" culture and fashion, which incorporates an influence from past decades. According to their website, Urban Outfitters'"established ability to understand our customers and connect with them on an emotional level is the reason for our success." The site says that "the reason for this success is that our brands... are both compelling and distinct. Each brand chooses a particular customer segment, and once chosen, sets out to create sustainable points of distinction with that segment" and that "the emphasis is oncreativity. Our goal is to offer a product assortment and an environment so compelling and distinctive that the customer feels an empathetic connection to the brand and is persuaded to buy." 
Urban outfitters seek to create "a differential shopping experience, which creates an emotional bond with the 18 to 30 year old target customer we serve." in 2009, it agreed to sell limited editions ofPolaroid ONE600 instant cameras and Type 779 instant film in partnership with the Austrian entrepreneur Florian Kaps, who acquired the rights to manufacture 700 copies of the defunct product.
 AwardsIn 2007 Urban Outfitters received the National Preservation Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation for the Urban Outfitters Corporate Office Campus located on thePhiladelphia Naval Shipyard. For the same campus, Urban Outfitters received the 2007 Global Award for Excellence from the Urban Land Institute. In March 2008, to introduce its new Terrain brand, the company entered the Philadelphia Flower Show and won the Alfred M. Campbell Award, the Conservation Award, People’s Choice Award and Best in Show.
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Urban Outfitters' products have been the subject of multiple controversies, particularly concerning religious and ethnic issues.
In 2003 the company released a Monopoly parody called Ghettopoly. The game was criticized as racist by a local chapter of the NAACP and black clergy, among...