Thursday, February 19, 2015

Without Walls: Urban Outfitters Answer to Fashionable Activewear

I was taking an innocent pass through Urban Outfitters on 35th Street, checking out all the extras that this particular store has compared to its counterparts on 14th Street, Broadway, etc, when I happened upon something new and very intriguing. It is a store within a store, boasting an Intelligentsia coffee shop, a skincare shop and, much to my delight, the newest addition to the Urban Outfitters/Anthropologie/Free People family: Without Walls.

This athletic/outdoor boutique is hard to miss, boasting brilliant patterns in magnetic colors and alluring fabrics. The display's focal point is an open caravan with thick wool vintage blankets slung over and out of its windows, colorful canteens, lanterns and carabiners artfully showcased along with hip outdoor coffee table books and psychedelic backpacks. On top of the caravan is a tent, but not your run-of-the mill army green or navy blue tent. This tent's nylon shell is a burst of floral designs on a white motif. Almost immediately you want to go camping, you think I'll hike the Appalachian trail, I'll white water raft through the Grand Canyon, hell! I'll even make it to the top of Mount Everest, and I will look so cool while doing it. Outdoorsy is hip.

The recent trend in outdoor and athletic clothing has been to modify what already works to be something fashionable, an item of clothing you would want to wear to your Saturday afternoon brunch. Athletic clothing is now about fashion. What?!

Without Walls is hitting the market with a vast inventory of super cool, boldly printed leggings and similarly bold sports bras, fleeces from Patagonia, updated army jackets, men's windbreakers with neon green drawstrings, and sleeping bags that are as bright as a Lily Pulitzer dress. The whole aesthetic is playing with the "I don't care if my stripes clash with my plaids" and it's working.

Some of the brands you'll find in Without Walls are tried and true such as Columbia, Patagonia and Tyvek, but as one store clerk pointed out to me "we are helping startups while starting up ourselves." There were names that I didn't recognize such as Katin, Blue Life and Teeki. Some of these might be familiar to you, dear reader, but for me they were a discovery.

There is also this inspirational aspect to the store, I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but felt it was about creating your own style or inspiring creation by unplugging, improving, and expanding your world through being outdoors. After all, the store's mantra is get moving, have fun. Life is an adventure, might as well look good while exploring it.

Urban Outfitters Herald Square
1333 Broadway at 35th Street