Urban Outfitters Company Profile

URBAN OUTFITTERS is a lifestyle retailer dedicated to inspiring customers through a unique combination of product, creativity and cultural understanding. Founded in 1970 in a small space across the street from the University of Pennsylvania, Urban Outfitters now operates over 200 stores in the United States, Canada and Europe, offering experiential retail environments and a well-curated mix of women’s, men’s, accessories and home product assortments.

URBN is a portfolio of global consumer brands comprised of Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, BHLDN, Terrain and the Vetri Family. They are a passionate, creative, entrepreneurial bunch who think outside the box and are all about providing a unique shopping experience while inspiring and connecting with their customers.

The year was 1970. Dick Hayne was just 23 years old when he and college roommate Scott Belair came up with the idea to open a retail store. Belair was in search of a topic for an entrepreneurial class he was taking at the time. The first store, originally called Free People, was located in a small space across the street from the University of Pennsylvania. Its mission was to provide second-hand clothing, furniture, jewelry and home décor for college-aged customers in a casual fun environment.

Since the first store opened in West Philadelphia they continually strive to connect with their customers through unique products and engaging store design. Instead of transforming buildings into something new, they preserve their original features, a trait that has become our signature look. They strip back paint to its first layer, expose brick walls, and use original pieces as displays and fixtures. Their approach goes beyond historical preservation – it’s about maintaining a layered history, but infusing a new, fresh atmosphere.

Meg Hayne created Urban Outfitters private label division, which supported product exclusive to Urban Outfitters. Demand was almost immediate and to meet this overwhelming need, she and Dick decided to create a wholesale line. It was well-received, so much so that Dick separated the businesses. For a while, the line took on many personalities: bulldog, Ecote, Cooperative, Anthropologie and then in 1984 a new life was breathed into the name Free People. 

By the 1990’s, their original customer was entering a new life stage. She longed for a store to indulge her creative side. Dick, realizing this wasn't an isolated phenomenon, went on to build a lifestyle brand that catered to creative, educated and affluent 30-45 year-old women. Anthropologie was born and in 1992, the first standalone store opened in a refurbished automobile shop in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Anthropologie is a portal of discovery for our customer - offering her a shopping destination with a well-curated mix of clothing, accessories, gifts, and home décor that reflect her personal style and individual passions.

Direct-To-Consumer Business

The millennium brought with it a new shopping experience, one that wasn't a physical location. In 1998, Anthropologie released its first catalog with circulation more than doubling before the end of the year. In August of that same year, Anthropologie.com was established. Site visits and online orders were well above initial expectations, which fueled investments in future E-commerce efforts. It wasn't long before their other brands opened a web store - Urban Outfitters in 1999 and Free People in 2004.

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