Printed UO Coup

Printed UO Coup

The flurry of printed matter from Urban Outfitters never fails to impress me, and even if there's an aesthetic 'off' note (for me, the jury is still out on the spring 2011 lookbook shot by Harmony Korine), the fact remains that UO seem to put collaboration and freehand interpretation first and product second.  Say what you will about Urban Outfitters 'hipster' intentions or pretensions (again, the jury is out…), somehow their lookbooks, with their lovely paperstock and heavy scent, keeps them firmly on my bookshelf where others have fallen by the wayside and have been disposed of.  I suspect this is down to the work of art director and designer Monica Nelson who has been working with Urban Outfitters since 2008.  **EDIT** Trust me to trust the wise words of Its Nice That.  The art director of most of UO's printed matter including this Martin Parr lookbook is in fact Joanna Ewing.  Apologies for the mis-credit. 

Their latest lookbook to have dropped through is their summer 2011, which follows the ambitious Harmony Korine effort, with another surprising collaboration with documentary British photographer Martin Parr.  You can brush up a bit using Wikipedia but a quick click on his website will immediately tell you that Parr is not yer' average photographer where good and proper taste rules all.  Actually a lot of his work leaves you feeling slightly dirty.  Not because his work is necessarily pornographic or gratuitously violent but because he captures mundane life with a satirical eye – you don't know whether he's laughing at his subjects or celebrating them.  He's probably most famous for his "The Last Resort: Photographs of New Brighton" series where you get a feel for all the unintentionally funny trivialities that day trippers go through when out on a typical British seaside resort…

English Seaside

Martin Parr-Seaside

Since then, Parr has travelled around the world photographing the nouveau riche at Goutte d'Or, how Chinese people hang out on their own native beaches and the tourist industry of Machu Picchu.  Perhaps his collaboration with Urban Outfitters isn't such a surprise when you read one of his blog entries that documents his jaunt around the recent Paris Fashion Week in March, where he was both bewildered and enchanted by high fashion all at once (he hadn't a clue what Celine was…).  For the lookbook, he was tasked with placing Urban Outfitters high summer items in the context of Marrakech in Morroco, and I think he's done it in the a way that is instantly recognisable as Parr, whilst at the same time making the objects at hand covetable as well as looking a bit funny against their backdrops.  Once again the ridicule of tourist trap surrealities, a common theme in Parr's work, is at play here…


Aleph by a Peace Treaty necklace in amongst dentures…


Banana yellow and banana phone along with token monkey…


What's interesting in this collaboration is that the product comes off looking covetable, showcasing a range in Parr's photography that may well open him up to more fashion commissions should he desire it.  I've come away wanting this Deena & Ozzy transparent bag


This shot is priceless but it's a shame these Jeffrey Campbell shoes are somewhat problematic.  I'm probably in the minority of fashion bloggers who DON'T own a pair of Jeffrey Campbell shoes but I don't generally have a problem with their designs.  This however takes the biscuit.  They are of course a complete rip-off of the 1938 Salvatore Ferragamo rainbow shoe designed for Judy Garland.  Alright, alright they copy designer shoes and they have named the shoe 'Salvatore' but why pick such an ICONIC design especially when Ferragamo themselves have re-issued the shoe as part of their Ferragamo's Creations line?   Baffling…


On a more positive note, the other things that I'm keeping an eye on include this Cambridge Satchel Company vivid orange satchel


…as well as these Bass for Rachel Antonoff loafers.


In other UO printed news, these images have been around the block a bit, but I did want to applaud the diligence of their latest Around the World project, which is sort of a replica of the Boutiques section of UK Urban Outfitters (probably hearing cries from State-siders who complained about UK UO stocking designers), selecting a similar wave of designers from around the world but for this second round of 'Around the World', UO have worked with up and coming photographer, also from around the world to shoot these designer pieces…

The pairings are striking and have had me flicking through the lookbook at least once a week since I got the lookbook a few months ago…

Charlie Engman from Chicago shoots Stockholm's Rodebjer S/S 11 collection, which I loved when I saw the show last summer…



Roman Noven and Tania Schlegova from Kiev, Ukraine uses compelling photo collaging to depict another Swedish brand The Local Firm



Of all the photographers featured, I'm most familiar with Korea-based Hasisi Park who gives Aussie label  Shakuhachi's clothes, an eerie blue tinge…



You've got to be impressed with the photo commissioning when they go to Harbin in China to find photography duo Zhang Jungang & Li Jie to shoot British label YMC in an unexpected way…


Same goes for Mariam Sitchinava of Tbilisi in Georgia who took on the innocent romance of French label Sessun



Leave a comment
  1. if jane

    2011-04-26 at 10:16 PM

    great post…and boom! knew it was parr immediately!

  2. mat

    2011-04-26 at 11:25 PM

    been a fan of martin parr since my gf introduced me to his work when we were at college, still looks fresh

  3. Megan Guernsey

    2011-04-26 at 11:29 PM

    Bowling balls! What a dream!!

  4. Scarlett

    2011-04-26 at 11:40 PM

    how do i go about getting one of the lookbooks? please and thank you!!

  5. kelly

    2011-04-27 at 12:01 AM

    i love your blog because you are one of the few to do any real reporting. well played, ms. bubble!!!

  6. Little Red Book

    2011-04-27 at 12:13 AM

    I also love the Bass x Rachel Antonoff shoes!

  7. Alice

    2011-04-27 at 12:52 AM

    Ah c’mon the rip off factor off the Cambell shoes doesn’t matter that much does it? Let’s face it, 98 per cent of us will never be able to afford the reissues. And as for being copy cats,l really like those pictures of The Local Firm’s stuff, but aren’t they VERY reminiscent of Cindy Sherman’s super great self portraits for POP from a while back? Kinda liked the Korine lookbok too, but it did pretty much fail to sell the clothes unlike Parr ( I guess this is you reservation about it?)

  8. Sarah

    2011-04-27 at 1:34 AM

    I really like that cambridge satchel. I love your detailed posts :).

  9. nana

    2011-04-27 at 4:08 AM

    I love the cambridge satchel too!!

  10. Jess

    2011-04-27 at 7:27 AM

    That salvatore shoe seems more like a tribute than a rip-off. There is no way that UO would ever steal any of Ferragamo’s market.The fact that the design IS so iconic seems an explanation in itself for why Campbell would reproduce them.
    Also, I love the Rodebjer poncho pages. I think all clothing should be photographed this way, and I would cut out the little pictures and put them on some makeshift paper dolls.

  11. susie_bubble

    2011-04-27 at 8:50 AM

    Alice: I feel SO vehement about this, I’m going to put this into threefold. I could well be in the minority here given the popularity of Jeffrey Campbell but oh well‚Ķ
    1) The shoe is SUCH an iconic design. It’s the equivalent of shoe royalty given that Ferragamo was such a trailblazer at the time. He patents over his most of his designs which showed that he did want them protected. I just think given the historical context, it looks BIZARRO that Jeffrey Campbell has ‘reproed’ the design. It sounds extreme but for me, it’s the equivalent of Ikea replicating a piece of 18th century Chippendale furniture‚Ķ. why? Weird? Wrong‚Ķ
    It’s testament to the amazing design of the shoe that JC has done very well with the shoe with it being sold out and all but I’d rather have the wee tiny belief that I’ll one day hap upon the real thing through some weird and wonderful way than take the JC route‚Ķ (you can tell I’m a deluded fantasist right?)
    2) History aside, in general, I don’t like rip-offs/repros of such recognisable designs. It’s a personal pet-peeve, maybe not one that other people share. Remember those Balenciaga lego shoes and the ensuing awful version? When you have such a strong image of the original, you end up scrutinise even more. Or maybe I just personally nit pick more‚Ķ. in any case in this instance, there’s something ‘off’ about the shoe – this particular shade of gold leather plus the t-bar combined makes the shoe look a little disjointed. That’s an aesthetic thing‚Ķ and maybe a personal preference.
    3) Like I said below, if Jeffrey Campbell wanted to make a ‘tribute’ (in this instance, is a tribute not just a nicer way of saying ‘rip-off), why not work with Ferragamo in donating all proceeds to fund the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum in Florence‚Ķ
    Though, Alice, I’d agree with you on the about the comparison between the Sherman x Pop thing and The Local Firm/Noven Schlegova pics. You could effectively draw photographic/artistic lineage from all the photographers really and actually that sort of postcard collaging also reminded me a little of John Stezaker’s work.
    So what’s the story? Nothing’s TRULY original? Oh, that old chestnut‚Ķ
    Jess: But what is the difference between a tribute and a rip-off – is tribute just a way of saying “Oh well, the shoe is SOD DAMN old, that we can copy it like for like without getting sued!” Did JC come out with an accompanying press release saying that the shoe was a tribute. An open statement like that would have made it a ‘tribute’ perhaps‚Ķ seeing as he did call the shoe ‘Salvatore’
    Me thinks a fitting tribute would be if all profits of the shoe went to the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum in Florence‚Ķthat would be a good ‘tribute’‚Ķ
    No of course UO don’t share the same market as Ferragamo but as outlined above, I think it’s just a very odd thing to copy‚Ķ

  12. Olive

    2011-04-27 at 9:40 AM

    I love the picture of blue cape 🙂

  13. R A

    2011-04-27 at 10:55 AM

    They are pretty savvy over at UO. I am a fan of both Korine and Parr. I am impressed! They do still make some questionable buying moves such as brands that copy certain shoes…

  14. Amy

    2011-04-27 at 11:59 AM

    Parr’s work is truly amazing. His vibrant use of colour from the film camera really brings out the detailing and iconic ipositions that people are putting themselves in.
    Personally i have studied Parr a million times over being a photographer myself. I find him inspirational, especially his fashion work.
    Lovely post 🙂

  15. handbags

    2011-04-27 at 1:11 PM

    Love that lovel cat hey do check my handbags collection just launched it thank you

  16. Emily

    2011-04-27 at 8:08 PM

    Whooo first I thought the necklaces were made out of human teeth!
    Would be cool though…

  17. Evana

    2011-04-27 at 11:05 PM

    Love Urban Outfitters, they always have the most amazing things, and this shoot is typically gorgeously put together!

  18. Roman Noven and Tania Schlegova

    2011-04-29 at 8:53 AM

    adore this project)

  19. bling duck fashion

    2011-04-29 at 9:14 AM

    the photos are so candid,and sooo funny!

  20. wholesale clothing

    2011-04-29 at 6:09 PM

    funny photos

Leave a Comment