Some vintage and well-worn clothing resells for so cheap, you can buy it in bulk by the pound. But Urban Outfitters, through its Urban Renewal line, is marking up some surplus items from the military to an “insane” degree.
Amid the usual assortment of Urban Renewal clothing on the site are three surplus items pulled directly from military bases. From “stonewashed” camo pants to a military jacket and “cozy” fleece, the pieces pictured on the site are selling for high prices, despite their origins. A current member of the military spoke to Us about the items for sale, saying that it’s more confusing than it is offensive.
“I am not sure why they would try and sell a fleece that is clearly Army surplus and for a completely insane price. The Army buys these fleeces and gear from the lowest bidder,” the member explained. “I am definitely missing the connection on how an Army surplus item, that’s not cute, passes for fashion. Who wants to wear a fleece with velcro straps that are meant to hold name tapes? I certainly never want to wear my Army issued gear when I don’t have to.”
Aside from the complete lack of style or quality that the pieces have, the fleeces in particular are known for getting passed around military bases where they’re hardly taken care of. Whether worn through dirt or illness, the active military member noted that the zip-ups are quite the opposite of clean. And if there are pieces left in good condition, there are likely better places for them to end up.
“If there is a surplus of perfectly good fleece jackets, they should have been donated to people who need them and cannot afford anything else,” the member said. “Men and women shopping at Urban Outfitters for a fleece are definitely not deprived of their basic needs. If they truly wanted to wear Army gear then they should serve themselves.”
Army surplus can be traced back to the earliest wars that required military uniforms. The mass-produced outfits worn to pieces during the war were eventually sold to stores in order to recoup some of the money lost during wartime, or they were otherwise disposed of because they were too worn out. Whatever their fate, there’s no doubt that the pieces are less than glamorous.
The Pennsylvania-based brand Urban Renewal has been called out in the past for selling unreasonably priced products, with people noting that much of the inventory is picked up from flea markets and yard sales.
Urban Outfitters didn’t respond to requests for comment, but customer reviews of each of the items range from political opinions on the matter to consumers simply evaluating their purchase. While some people have come forward on the site to express the irony and controversy in Urban Outfitters selling these items, one person pointed out just why they shouldn’t be sold, without even realizing it.
“To my surprise, I received a 10% discount at IHOP and an elderly gentleman thanked me for my service!” the customer wrote. “So cute! The jacket is already paying for itself.”
The jacket may be “paying for itself,” but the issues behind the sale of it are certainly speaking for themselves as well.