The word “urban” is supposed to mean 1) of, pertaining to, or designating a city or town, 2) living in a city, 3) characteristic of or accustomed to cities. Nowadays, however, you can see it being used everywhere by marketing jerkwads and touchy-feely hipster types to create a soft, comfy feeling about city-related things. Our cities are being transformed into “urban villages” (check out this blog for a great example) and young people with laptops and mobile phones have become “urban nomads” occupying their “urban dwellings.” What the fuck is a “urban nomad”? Bullshit, that’s what. You’re a tool with an iPhone at Starbucks, simple as that. (I’ve always thought “global village” was pretentious, but “urban village” borders on worse.)
Clothing is where the urban stuff really kicks in. Somewhere, sometime, “urban” became synonymous with street/hip-hop culture. Probably the work of those marketing jerkwads again. When shopping online you can buy “Urban Clothing for Global Streetwear Culture” (karmaloop.com), some “Hip Hop clothing, street & Urban apparel” (cluburban.com), some “Authentic Urban wear” (urbanclothingultd.com…wow, authentic!), and “streetwear, skate clothes, hip hop & urban clothing” at theurbanshop.co.uk. Even when they’re using the word in its original context, they’re using it way too much. Seattle alone has a ton of them: a wildlife habitat called “Seattle Urban Nature”, a golf club called “Seattle Urban Golf”, an entertainment promotion site called urbanseattle.com, an online shop called “Seattle Urban Nature Store”, a pet store near downtown called “Urban Beast”, and on and on. Christ, enough already! We get the city-living concept, it’s time to move on. You know, like an urban nomad.
I’d also like to register a complaint about clothing companies using the word “outfitters.” Sonoma Outfitters, American Outfitters, American Eagle Outfitters, etc. The worst is, of course, Urban Outfitters — talk about a double whammy. It’s simply pretentious marketing peepeecaca meant to invoke an air of utilitarian ruggedness, as if you bought those cargo pants out of the back of a supply truck on your way to your latest jungle safari or something. (That’s another word they’re overusing: “supply.” Hello, Mossimo Supply Co.? You’re selling, not supplying. Sigh.)
OK, I’m done. 🙂