How Does Urban Outfitters Make Money? The Urban Outfitters Business Model In A Nutshell

Urban Outfitters is a multinational lifestyle retail corporation with a company headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The company was founded in 1970 by Richard Hayne, Judy Wicks, and Scott Belair.

Business Model ElementAnalysisImplicationsExamples
Value PropositionUrban Outfitters’ value proposition includes: – Unique Fashion: Offering a curated selection of trendy and unique clothing and accessories. – Lifestyle Brand: Building a brand that resonates with urban, creative, and individualistic consumers. – In-Store Experience: Creating immersive and aesthetically pleasing physical stores for a unique shopping experience. – Online Shopping: Providing an online platform for convenient shopping and access to the brand. Urban Outfitters aims to appeal to fashion-forward, creative, and individualistic customers through its unique offerings and in-store experience.Attracts customers seeking trendy and distinctive fashion items. Builds brand loyalty among urban and creative individuals. Enhances the shopping experience through aesthetically pleasing physical stores. Provides convenience through online shopping. Establishes a strong value proposition in the fashion and lifestyle retail sector.– Curated selection of trendy clothing. – A brand that resonates with creative consumers. – Aesthetic and immersive physical stores. – User-friendly online shopping platform.
Customer SegmentsUrban Outfitters serves the following customer segments: 1. Fashion Enthusiasts: Attracting individuals who value unique and trendy fashion. 2. Creative and Artistic Consumers: Appealing to those with a creative and individualistic lifestyle. 3. Urban Dwellers: Targeting customers living in urban areas who appreciate the brand’s aesthetic. 4. Online Shoppers: Providing convenience to customers who prefer online shopping. Urban Outfitters caters to fashion enthusiasts, creative individuals, urban dwellers, and online shoppers.Attracts customers with a passion for unique fashion. Builds a community of creative and artistic consumers. Establishes a presence in urban areas where the brand’s style is appreciated. Provides convenience to online shoppers. Targets diverse customer segments aligned with its brand image.– Fashion enthusiasts seeking unique styles. – Creative individuals valuing artistic expression. – Urban dwellers appreciating the brand’s aesthetic. – Online shoppers looking for convenience.
Distribution StrategyUrban Outfitters’ distribution strategy includes: – Physical Stores: Operating a network of physical stores in urban and popular locations. – E-commerce Platform: Providing an online store for customers to browse and purchase products. – Multichannel Retail: Integrating physical and online shopping experiences for a seamless customer journey. – Marketing and Social Media: Utilizing marketing campaigns and social media to reach and engage customers. Urban Outfitters combines physical stores, e-commerce, multichannel retail, and digital marketing to distribute its products and brand.Offers a brick-and-mortar shopping experience in popular urban areas. Provides convenience through an online shopping platform. Integrates physical and online channels for a seamless shopping journey. Engages and attracts customers through marketing and social media efforts. Implements a comprehensive distribution strategy to reach its audience.– Physical stores in urban and popular locations. – User-friendly e-commerce platform. – Seamless multichannel shopping experience. – Marketing campaigns and social media engagement.
Revenue StreamsUrban Outfitters generates revenue through the following channels: 1. Retail Sales: Earning income from the sale of clothing, accessories, and home goods in physical stores. 2. E-commerce Sales: Generating revenue from online sales through the website. 3. Private Label Brands: Offering exclusive products and brands to attract customers. 4. In-Store Experience: Enhancing the shopping experience to drive in-store sales. Urban Outfitters diversifies its revenue streams through retail and e-commerce sales, private label brands, and in-store experiences.Generates revenue through the sale of fashion and lifestyle products. Earns income from online sales through the e-commerce platform. Attracts customers with exclusive private label brands. Enhances in-store experiences to drive sales. Diversifies revenue within the retail and fashion industry.– Revenue from retail sales in physical stores. – Income from e-commerce sales through the website. – Exclusive private label brands. – Revenue generated by enhancing the in-store experience.
Marketing StrategyUrban Outfitters’ marketing strategy involves: – Trendy Aesthetic: Promoting a trendy and unique aesthetic in its marketing campaigns and product presentations. – Social Media Engagement: Actively engaging with customers on social media platforms to showcase products and connect with the audience. – Influencer Collaborations: Partnering with influencers to reach a broader audience and promote products. – Loyalty Programs: Offering loyalty programs and discounts to retain and reward customers. Urban Outfitters focuses on aesthetics, social media, influencers, and customer loyalty to market its brand and products.Attracts customers through visually appealing and trendy marketing. Engages and connects with customers on social media platforms. Extends reach through influencer partnerships and endorsements. Retains and rewards customers through loyalty programs. Implements a multifaceted marketing strategy aligned with its brand image.– Visually appealing and trendy marketing campaigns. – Active engagement with customers on social media. – Collaborations with influencers for promotion. – Loyalty programs and customer retention efforts.
Organization StructureUrban Outfitters’ organizational structure includes: – Executive Leadership: Comprising executives responsible for overall strategic direction. – Merchandising Team: Managing product selection, inventory, and vendor relationships. – Retail Operations: Overseeing the operation of physical stores, including staffing and customer service. – E-commerce Division: Focusing on the development and management of the online platform. – Marketing and Branding: Handling marketing campaigns, branding, and social media engagement. Urban Outfitters maintains an organized structure to support its retail and e-commerce operations, merchandise management, store operations, online presence, and marketing efforts.Led by executive leadership for strategic direction. Manages merchandise selection, inventory, and vendor relationships. Oversees the operation of physical stores, including staffing and service. Develops and manages the online e-commerce platform. Handles marketing, branding, and social media engagement. Maintains an organized structure aligned with its retail and fashion business.– Executive leadership for strategic direction. – Teams for merchandise, retail, e-commerce, and marketing. – Staff responsible for physical store operations. – Division focusing on the online e-commerce platform. – Marketing and branding teams to promote the brand.



History of Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters is a multinational lifestyle retail corporation with a company headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The company was founded in 1970 by Richard Hayne, Judy Wicks, and Scott Belair. At the time, college student Hayne had the idea to open a retail store for an entrepreneurial class he was taking.

The store, which was called Free People, was located in a small space right across the road from the University of Pennsylvania.

It had a mission to provide second-hand clothing, furniture, jewelry, drug paraphernalia, and home décor to college and grad students in a casual yet fun environment.

In 1976, the store was renamed Urban Outfitters and incorporated. New stores were opened following the original concept in metropolitan areas near college campuses.

Portfolio brand Anthropologie was then launched in 1992 as a lifestyle brand for creative, affluent women in the 30-45 year age bracket. The following year, an Urban Outfitters IPO was held raising $13 million.

In the ensuing decades, Urban Outfitters has continued to expand through new store openings and new brands. In 2008, the company acquired a popular garden center in Pennsylvania and reimagined it as a combination retail store, café, and event space.

It also launched BHLDN in 2011, offering brides-to-be a curated selection of wedding gowns, bridal party dresses, accessories, and gifts.

Urban Outfitters revenue generation

In terms of revenue generation, Urban Outfitters has two main sources.

Retail sales

As an online and bricks-and-mortar retailer, the company earns money by purchasing goods and then selling them for a profit.

Urban Outfitters defines retail sales as any merchandise sold directly through its stores, catalogs, call centers, and websites.

Forbes estimates retail sales contribute approximately 90% of all company revenue in a given year.

This revenue is attributed to Urban Outfitters portfolio brands including:

  1. Anthropologie.
  2. BHLDN.
  3. Free People.
  4. Terrain Café – a dining experience as part of the aforementioned nursery center acquisition.
  5. Menus & Venues – a food and beverage division encompassing formal and casual Italian restaurants, pizza bars, and business event venues. 

Wholesale arrangements

Through wholesale arrangements, Urban Outfitters sells Free People, Anthropologie, and other company-branded products through department and specialty stores around the world.


Nuuly is a clothing rental subscription service in keeping with the company’s mission to empower customers to express themselves through fashion.

For $88/month, customers can rent any six items chosen from over 150 brands and 1,000 curated styles.

There are no shipping fees for Nuuly, nor are there any late fees, damage fees, or dry-cleaning fees.

At the time of writing, Nuuly was only offered as a single plan. For customers desiring seven or eight items to rent, the company charges an additional $18 per item.

Key takeaways:

  • Urban Outfitters is a lifestyle retail company founded by Richard Hayne, Judy Wicks, and Scott Belair in 1970. The pilot store, Free People, was a university project for an entrepreneurial class.
  • Urban Outfitters makes approximately 90% of its revenue from retail sales across its various brands. A much smaller amount of revenue is made through wholesale agreements.
  • Urban Outfitters also offers a clothes rental service called Nuuly, priced at $88/month for six items with additional items attracting an $18 charge.

Read Next: A Quick Glance At Zara Business Model, How Amazon Makes Money.

Main Free Guides:

Read Next: ASOS, SHEINZaraFast FashionUltra-Fast FashionReal-Time Retail, Slow Fashion.

Related Visual Resources

Slow Fashion

Slow fashion is a movement in contraposition with fast fashion. Where in fast fashion, it’s all about speed from design to manufacturing and distribution, in slow fashion, quality and sustainability of the supply chain are the key elements.

Fast Fashion

Fash fashion has been a phenomenon that became popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as players like Zara and H&M took over the fashion industry by leveraging on shorter and shorter design-manufacturing-distribution cycles. Reducing these cycles from months to a few weeks. With just-in-time logistics and flagship stores in iconic places in the largest cities in the world, these brands offered cheap, fashionable clothes and a wide variety of designs.

Inditex Empire

With over €27 billion in sales in 2021, the Spanish Fast Fashion Empire, Inditex, which comprises eight sister brands, has grown thanks to a strategy of expanding its flagship stores in exclusive locations around the globe. Its largest brand, Zara, contributed over 70% of the group’s revenue. The country that contributed the most to the fast fashion Empire sales was Spain, with over 15% of its revenues.

Ultra Fast Fashion

The Ultra Fashion business model is an evolution of fast fashion with a strong online twist. Indeed, where the fast-fashion retailer invests massively in logistics and warehousing, its costs are still skewed toward operating physical retail stores. While the ultra-fast fashion retailer mainly moves its operations online, thus focusing its cost centers on logistics, warehousing, and a mobile-based digital presence.

ASOS Business Model

ASOS is a British online fashion retailer founded in 2000 by Nick Robertson, Andrew Regan, Quentin Griffiths, and Deborah Thorpe. As an online fashion retailer, ASOS makes money by purchasing clothes from wholesalers and then selling them for a profit. This includes the sale of private label or own-brand products. ASOS further expanded on the fast fashion business model to create an ultra-fast fashion model driven by short sales cycles and online mobile e-commerce as the main drivers.

Real-Time Retail

Real-time retail involves the instantaneous collection, analysis, and distribution of data to give consumers an integrated and personalized shopping experience. This represents a strong new trend, as a further evolution of fast fashion first (who turned the design into manufacturing in a few weeks), ultra-fast fashion later (which further shortened the cycle of design-manufacturing). Real-time retail turns fashion trends into clothes collections in a few days or a maximum of one week.

SHEIN Business Model

SHEIN is an international B2C fast fashion eCommerce platform founded in 2008 by Chris Xu. The company improved the ultra-fast fashion model by leveraging real-time retail, quickly turning fashion trends in clothes collections through its strong digital presence and successful branding campaigns.

About The Author

Scroll to Top