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18 Stylish Facts About Anthropologie

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You might have bought a dress on its website, or paged longingly through its catalog, or rifled through its quirky offerings in store—but there’s probably still a lot you don’t know about Anthropologie.

1. ITS PARENT COMPANY IS URBAN OUTFITTERS.

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Richard Hayne and his first wife, Judy Wick, opened their first shop, called Free People’s Store, in 1970 with business partner (and Hayne’s old roommate) Scott Belair. The 400-square-foot shop, located at 4307 Locust Street in Philadelphia’s University City neighborhood, sold, according to the Washington Post, “used clothes, T-shirts, housewares, dope paraphernalia and ethnic jewelry, all at low prices.”

In 1971, Wick and Hayne got divorced, and Belair graduated from Wharton and moved on to a Wall Street career, leaving the Free People's Shop behind. But Hayne stayed with the business, and in 1975, he relocated to a bigger space and changed the store's name to Urban Outfitters, partially in response to the end of the Vietnam War. “[The war] had been incredibly divisive, and there was just this amazing change of mood,” he told Philadelphia Weekly. “The name ‘Free People’ had some political connotations, and they were growing tired ... It happened to be the time when we were just putting together the deal to move to a much larger space and felt that, in conjunction with that, we should change our name.” Later, Hayne would bring back Free People, and create Anthropologie, under the Urban Outfitters, Inc. umbrella.

2. THE NAME IS A SPIN ON HAYNE’S COLLEGE MAJOR.

Hayne graduated from Lehigh University in 1969 with a degree in anthropology. The store is named after the discipline and translated into French.

3. IT STARTED AS A LINE THAT URBAN OUTFITTERS SOLD WHOLESALE TO SPECIALTY AND DEPARTMENT STORES.

The Anthropologie line debuted in 1991, and, according to a Women’s Wear Daily article from that year, had “chiffon looks” for its first offerings and “solid and printed lambswool sweaters, miniskirts and leggings” for the fall and holiday seasons.

4. HAYNE AND AN INTERIOR DESIGNER SPENT TWO YEARS CONCEPTUALIZING THE STORE BEFORE OPENING IT.

When he was creating his first post-Urban store—which would appeal to customers growing out of UO and into the next stage of their lives—Hayne turned to architect Ron Pompei and his design firm, Pompei A.D. According to Fast Company, the duo spent a couple of years on a “cultural odyssey” to create their vision for the store. They traveled, visited museums, took in cultural events, and shopped at outdoor markets. During their travels, they learned that “Texture was very important," Pompei recalled. "Storytelling was central.”

Anthropologie would allow customers to “just be,” Pompei told Fast Company. “The mainstream culture focuses on what you have. Recently, what you do has become more important. We wanted to respond to the shift toward ‘who you are.’” Anthropologie stores would also spark something transformational, he said, “where the visitor's imagination was just as important as that of the designer.” They'd also be interactive: People would start to connect the dots in their own way and tell themselves a personal story.

The first Anthropologie store opened in Wayne, Penn., in 1992, in a terra-cotta building that had been a car dealership. 

5. IT DOESN’T ADVERTISE …

The company doesn't take out ads in print publications or run commercials on radio or TV—and it never has. Instead, it relies on its website, apps, email campaigns, social media, blogs, and its storefronts and displays to reach its customers. “We believe that by starting a conversation and interacting directly with our customers ... we are more effective at understanding and serving their fashion needs, the company wrote in its April 2015 SEC filingsWe also believe that our blogs continue this conversation. Not only do our blogs allow us to communicate what inspires us, they allow our customers to tell us what inspires them. This fosters our relationships with our customers and encourages them to continue shopping with us.” 

6. … BUT IT DOES SEND OUT CATALOGS.

The catalog, which launched in 1998 (along with the website), tells a story. Katja Maas, an art director who worked on Anthropologie catalogs, wrote on her website that “The briefs were mostly: To present specific merchandise in a lifestyle context by creating a narrative based on a theme from the creative director. At the beginning of each job, I would be given a theme, some photocopies of merchandise, a pagination to act as a guide for sequence and size of image, and some location reference so that I could sketch the shots and brief the prop stylist.” 

But the catalogs—which the company refers to as “journals” and are often shot in exotic locations—also sell a lifestyle. "Retailers think catalogs are consumed by customers looking through them and deciding what they like and don't like," consumer psychologist Adam Ferrier told Racked. "But catalogs are more used to create the brand's vibe. Anthropologie's consumer is quite strange and aspirational. The brand comes to life in this type of catalog and lets the customer discover.” Susy Korb, chief marketing officer of Anthropologie, told The New York Times, “Of course we’re trying to sell clothes and accessories, but [the catalog is] more to inspire and engage.”

7. THE COMPANY BRIEFLY SOLD MEN’S CLOTHES.

They were not a hit. “For a suburban man aged 30 to 40, hell is going clothing shopping on a Saturday afternoon,” Hayne told Philadelphia Weekly in 2003. “There are about 5000 other things they would put on the list ahead of clothes shopping.”

8. CHARLES DICKENS’S GREAT-GRANDDAUGHTER WORKED THERE.

Polly Dickens was the director of the home division from 2000 to 2003

9. JULIA ROBERTS IS A STAND-IN FOR THEIR IDEAL CUSTOMER.

On a demographic levelAnthropologie shoppers are typically 30 to 45 years old, have college or graduate degrees, are in a relationship, and have an annual household income of $150,000 to $200,000. But the employees describe her in other, more personal ways. Then-president Senk told Fast Company in 2002 that he preferred to describe Anthropologie’s customer in “psychographic terms,” which are all about attitude and lifestyle: “She's well-read and well-traveled,” he said. “She is very aware—she gets our references ... She's urban minded. She's into cooking, gardening, and wine. She has a natural curiosity about the world. She's relatively fit.” Fast Company says Julia Roberts—a frequent shopper—is the “celebrity avatar of Anthropologie,” noting that her wardrobe for The Mexican came from the store.

10. EACH STORE IS DESIGNED TO HAVE A UNIQUE FEEL—BUT THERE IS CONTINUITY.

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Anthropologie leases rather than buys its spaces, and often chooses interesting and historic buildings over the mall, using each space’s quirks in the design of the store. “Our visual philosophy is to make the store feel as if it's a one-off, to feel like it's the only one,” former Executive Creative Director Kristen Norris told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2004. “We capitalize on existing architectural elements. All of the stores have a similarity to them, but none are exactly the same … We want each store to have a unique personality and cater to the customer. The customer in Miami is not the customer in Seattle.”

Cohesiveness comes from the layout and organization of each store, which is meant to mimic a private home. The store’s team creates a series of themed “vignettes”—a bedroom or bathroom, for example—that put Anthropologie’s merchandise into context. At the front of the store is typically a garden or outdoor entertaining vignette, then dining and kitchen areas, followed by bath and bed. Each area tells a story for the customer to explore and discover, and following the movements of going through a home-like layout will help her to “decompress, as you do in your own home,” Norris told the San Francisco Chronicle. The overall effect, Norris said, is that “by the time you get to the back of the store, you're as relaxed as you would be by the time you get to bed.”

But there’s at least one element that might not be found in most private homes: Each store’s furniture and racks are also laid out on a grid, aligning at 35-to-40 degree angles to create symmetry.

11. EACH STORE HAS ITS OWN DESIGN TEAM THAT FOLLOWS AESTHETIC PROMPTS FROM CORPORATE.

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After the head design team at Anthropologie’s Philadelphia HQ creates each season’s themes, they send photos and mood boards to each store’s design team and let them loose on ideas. “[Each] artist has the freedom to interpret the idea how they see fit for their particular architectural space and in [a] medium they feel good about,” Ketija Ratniece, a Visual Display Artist at Anthropologie in San Francisco, told the blog Whimsical Agnesiga. “That way each individual store does not look ‘cut & paste’ but still relate through the concept.” (Every idea has to be approved by corporate before the store can run with it, though.)

Though the size of the design team depends on the time of year and the size of the store, each includes a display coordinator, who brainstorms and constructs both the window and store displays, and a visual coordinator, who merchandises the displays when they’re done. Many of Anthropologie’s displays are handmade and created with found materials. The budget for the windows is as little as $5000.

12. ITS COLLECTIONS ARE BASED ON, AND BUILT AROUND, THREE IMAGINARY WOMEN.

Each imaginary lady is given a name and characteristics that fit into the store’s three main clothing aesthetics: Feminine, Artistic, and Linear (clean and modern). “Each one is a different woman,” former general merchandise manager Wendy Wurtzburger told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2004. “We talk about her very specifically, where she lives, and sketch her life.”

Take Holiday 2014’s ladies, Aurora, Silver, and Quinn. “The Aurora concept is a holiday girl, so she has a lot of party dresses with shimmer and shine,” Jill Gallenstein, Anthropologie's eastern regional display manager, told Racked. “Silver ... is more of a ranch girl. Her color palette is much more about sunset tones, a lot of layering, heavier sweaters, a lot of capes. Then Quinn ... she's more of a city girl. She's a little bit more pulled together, buttoned-up, so a little desk-to-dinner wear.”

Using the women’s narratives—which will include things like where she went to school and what books she likes to read—and interpreting aesthetic concepts like “she likes to play with color” and “her clothes have a lot of asymmetry” not only helps to create a cohesive narrative from store to store but also lets each individual store’s design team be creative.

13. SOME OF THE DISPLAYS ARE AUCTIONED OFF, WITH PROCEEDS GOING TO CHARITY.

The windows change every 6 to 8 weeks, and the interior displays are rotated more often than that. When a display’s time is up, it either goes into storage to be used again or is auctioned off for charity. For example, when butterflies created for the Greenville, N.C. store’s Earth Day celebration were sold, proceeds went to American Forests and were used to plant new trees.

14. ITS FORMER BUYER-AT-LARGE HAD A REALITY SHOW.

The Sundance Channel’s Man Shops Globe followed Keith Johnson as he traveled the world looking for one-of-a-kind items to furnish and sell in stores, and objects that could be used to inspire collections. (He traveled so much that his passport had 72 extra pages.) Johnston told Fast Company that, beyond quality, the perfect Anthropologie find “has to have a lot of personality. It has to be homey. Maybe it has a sense of humor. It has to have a little quirk. People respond to fun—a little whimsy goes a long way.” Man Shops Globe ran for two seasons.

15. IT MAKES URBAN OUTFITTERS, INC. A LOT OF MONEY ...

According to Racked, in 2014, “Anthropologie's North American net sales accounted for approximately 39 percent of the brand's consolidated net sales, which were just over $3 billion.” Its revenue per square foot is off the charts: The brand brings in $995 per square foot, compared to $696 for Urban Outfitters stores.

16. … AND ITS CUSTOMERS SPEND A LONG TIME SHOPPING.

In 2015, Anthropologie customers spent an average of 75 minutes shopping in stores.

17. ONLY NINE STATES DON’T HAVE AN ANTHROPOLOGIE STORE.

They are: Alaska, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Soon, that number will shrink to eight; Anthropologie will open a store in West Des Moines, Iowa, in 2016. The store is also international: There are 12 in Canada, nine in the UK, and one in France.

18. THE COMPANY HAS A GARDENING STORE AND A WEDDING STORE.

Terrain was launched in 2008, and BHLDN—pronounced “beholden”—in 2011.

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job secrets
13 Secrets of Halloween Costume Designers
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For consumers, Halloween may be all about scares, but for businesses, it’s all about profits. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend $9.1 billion this year on spooky goods, including a record $3.4 billion on costumes. “It’s an opportunity to be something you’re not the other 364 days of the year,” Jonathan Weeks, CEO of Costumeish.com, tells Mental Floss. “It feels like anything goes.”

To get a better sense of what goes into those lurid, funny, and occasionally outrageous disguises, we spoke to a number of designers who are constantly trying to react to an evolving seasonal market. Here’s what we learned about what sells, what doesn’t, and why adding a “sexy” adjective to a costume doesn’t always work.

1. SOME COSTUMES ARE JUST TOO OUTRAGEOUS FOR RETAIL

A woman models a scary nun costume for Halloween
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For kids, Halloween is a time to look adorable in exchange for candy. For adults, it’s a time to push the envelope. Sometimes that means provocative, revealing costumes; other times, it means going for shock value. “You get looks at a party dressed as an Ebola worker,” Weeks says. “We have pregnant nun costumes, baby cigarette costumes.” The catch: You won’t be finding these at Walmart. “They’re meant for online, not Spencer’s or Party City.”

2. … BUT THERE ARE SOME LINES THEY WON’T CROSS.

Homeowners are scared by trick-or-treaters on Halloween
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Although Halloween is the one day of the year people can deploy a dark sense of humor without inviting personal or professional disaster, some costume makers draw their own line when it comes to how far to exceed the boundaries of good taste. “We’ve never done a child pimp costume, but someone else has,” says Robert Berman, co-founder of Rasta Imposta, a business that broke into the industry on the strength of their fake dreadlock wig in 1992. Weeks says some questionable ideas that have been brought to the discussion table have stayed there. “There’s no toddler KKK costume or baby Nazi costume,” he says. “There is a line.”

3. THEY CAN DESIGN AND PRODUCE A COSTUME IN A MATTER OF DAYS.

A man models a costume in front of a mirror
Rob Stothard/Getty Images

A lot of costume interest comes from what’s been making headlines in the fall: Costumers have to be ready to meet that demand. “We’re pretty good at being able to react quickly,” says Pilar Quintana, vice-president of merchandising for Yandy.com. “Something happening in April may not be strong enough to stick around for Halloween.”

Because the mail-order site has in-house models and isn’t beholden to approval from big box vendors, Quintana can design and photograph a costume so it’s available within 72 hours. If it's more elaborate, it can take a little longer: Both Yandy and Weeks had costumes inspired by the Cecil the Lion story that broke in July 2015 (in which a trophy hunter from Minnesota killed an African lion) on their sites in a matter of weeks.

4. BEYONCE CAN HELP MOVE STALE INVENTORY.

A screen shot from Formation, a music video featuring Beyonce
beyonceVEVO, YouTube

Extravagant custom tailoring jobs aside, Halloween costumes are a business of instant demand and instant gratification—inventory needs to be plentiful in order to fill the deluge of orders that come in a short frame of time. If a business miscalculates the popularity of a given theme, they might be stuck with overstock until they can find a better idea to hang on it. “Last year, we had 400 or 500 Zorro costumes that we couldn’t sell for $10,” Weeks says. “It had a big black hat that came with it, and I thought, ‘That looks familiar.’ It turned out it looked a lot like the one Beyonce wore in her ‘Lemonade’ video.” Remarketed as a "Formation" hat for Beyonce cosplayers, Weeks moved his stock.

5. WOMEN DON’T USUALLY WEAR MASKS.

A man tries on a Joker mask at a retail store
Rhona Wise/Getty Images

Curiously, there’s a large gender gap when it comes to the sculpted latex monster masks offered by Halloween vendors: They’re sold almost exclusively to men. “There just aren’t a lot of masks with female characters,” Weeks says. “I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because men in general like gory, scary costumes.” One exception: Hillary Clinton masks, which were all the rage last year.

6. FOOD COSTUMES ARE ALWAYS A HIT.

A dog wears a hot dog costume for Halloween
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At Rasta Imposta, Berman says political and pop culture trends can shift their plans, but one theme is a constant: People love to dress up as food. “We’ve had big success with food items. Bananas, pickles. We did an avocado.” Demand for these faux-edible costumes can occasionally get ugly: Rasta is currently suing Sears and Kmart for selling a banana costume that they allege infringes on Rasta’s copyrighted version, which has blackened ends and a vertical stripe.

7. ADDING ”SEXY” TO EVERYTHING DOESN’T ALWAYS WORK.

A packaged Halloween costume hangs on a store rack
Saul Loeb/Getty Images

It’s a recurring joke that some costume makers only need to add a “sexy” adjective to a design concept in order to make it marketable. While there’s some truth to that—Quintana references Yandy’s “sexy poop emoji” costume—it’s no guarantee of success. “We had a concept for ‘sexy cheese’ that was a no-go,” she says. “'Sexy corn’ didn’t really work at all. ‘Sexy anti-fascist’ didn’t make the cut this year.”

8. PEOPLE ASK FOR SOME WEIRD STUFF.

A person appears in a skull costume with glowing eyes for Halloween
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In addition to monitoring social media for memes and trends, designers can get an idea of what consumers are looking for by shadowing their online searches. Costumeish.com monitors what people are typing into their search bar to see if they’re missing out on a potential hit. “People search for odd things sometimes,” Weeks says. “People want to be a cactus, a palm tree, they’re looking for a priest and a boy costume. People can be weird.”

9. THEY HAVE WORKAROUNDS FOR BIG PROPERTIES.

Go out to a party this year and you’re almost guaranteed to run into the Queen of the North. But not every costume maker has the official license for Game of Thrones. What are other companies to do? Come up with a design that sparks recognition without sparking a lawsuit. “Our biggest seller right now is Sexy Northern Queen,” Quintana says. “It’s inspired by a TV show.” But she won’t say which one.

10. PEOPLE LOVE SHARKS.

Singer Katy Perry appears on stage with two dancing sharks
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

From the clunky Ben Cooper plastic costume from 1975’s Jaws to today, people can’t seem to get enough of shark-themed outfits. “We do a lot of sharks,” Berman says. “Maybe it’s because of Shark Week in the summertime, but sharks always tend to trend. People just like the idea of sharks.”

11. DEAD CELEBRITIES MEAN SALES.

A portrait of Hugh Hefner hangs in the Playboy Mansion
Hector Mata/Getty Images

It may be morbid, but it’s a reality: The high-profile passing of celebrities, especially close to Halloween, can trigger a surge in sales. “Before Robin Williams died, I couldn’t sell a Mork costume for a dollar,” Weeks says. “After he died, I couldn’t not sell it for less than $100.” This year, designers expect Hugh Hefner to fuel costume ideas—unless something else pops up suddenly to grab their attention. “Last year, when Prince died, that was almost trumped by [presidential debate audience member] Ken Bone,” Berman says. “He became almost more popular than Prince.”

12. THEY PROFIT FROM PEOPLE SHOPPING AT THE LAST MINUTE.

A man shops for Halloween costumes in a retail store
Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

Ever wonder why food and other novelty costumes tend to outsell traditional garb like pirates and witches? Because costume shopping for adults is usually done frantically and they don’t have time to compare 25 different Redbeards. “People tend to do it at the very last minute, so we want something that pops out at them,” Berman says. “Like, ‘Oh, I want to be a crab.’”

Weeks agrees that procrastination is profitable. “We make a lot of money on shipping,” he says. “Some people get party invites on the 25th and so they’re paying for next-day air.”

13. IT’S NOT ACTUALLY A SEASONAL BUSINESS.

A woman shops for costumes in a retail store
Rhona Wise/Getty Images

Everyone we spoke to agreed that the most surprising thing about the Halloween business is that it’s not really seasonal on their end. Costumes are designed year-round, and planning can take between 12 and 18 months. “It’s 365 days a year,” Quintana says. “We’ll start thinking about next Halloween in December.” Weeks says he'll begin planning in May 2018—for Halloween 2019.

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This Just In
Target Expands Its Clothing Options to Fit Kids With Special Needs
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Target

For kids with disabilities and their parents, shopping for clothing isn’t always as easy as picking out cute outfits. Comfort and adaptability often take precedence over style, but with new inclusive clothing options, Target wants to make it so families don’t have to choose one over the other.

As PopSugar reports, the adaptive apparel is part of Target’s existing Cat & Jack clothing line. The collection already includes items made without uncomfortable tags and seams for kids prone to sensory overload. The latest additions to the lineup will be geared toward wearers whose disabilities affect them physically.

Among the 40 new pieces are leggings, hoodies, t-shirts, bodysuits, and winter jackets. To make them easier to wear, Target added features like diaper openings for bigger children, zip-off sleeves, and hidden snap and zip seams near the back, front, and sides. With more ways to put the clothes on and take them off, the hope is that kids and parents will have a less stressful time getting ready in the morning than they would with conventionally tailored apparel.

The new clothing will retail for $5 to $40 when it debuts exclusively online on October 22. You can get a sneak peek at some of the items below.

Adaptive jacket from Target.
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Adaptive apparel from Target.

Adaptive apparel from Target.

Adaptive apparel from Target.

[h/t PopSugar]

All images courtesy of Target.

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