Four Brands’ Chokehold on Our School


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Nora Silvergleid, Staff Writer


1,200 students; four brands. On the first day of school, there is a swarm of jean shorts and Brandy t-shirts, which, the girls at Harriton will tell you, hit just the right length. One month later, almost as if mirroring the changing leaves, the outfits shift to longer Lululemon shorts paired with the cropped henley from Urban Outfitters, meshing to produce the classic fall look. As months flip by, and clothing choices change from cute to durable with the dropping temperature, the four brands remain the same. In the blink of an eye, it is spring again. Lululemon shorts are back, and leggings are as far away as summer seems to be. The environment, school life, and even grades are constantly fluctuating, yet these brands never change. 


So let’s unpack this issue: how the student body’s appearance is a walking catalog for only four brands. For some of you, these four brands are simply familiar. Others may have seen the clothing but not know the brand, and still, others may not even know what I’m referring to. Well, stay tuned, because this article will open your eyes to the pitfalls of Harriton fashion. 


Let me preface by saying that I am in no way better than you — my taste in clothes is not different or extraordinary, and I often find myself falling captive to these same clothing brands as well. Hopefully, after reading this article, you will have some new insight into a more unique look. Now, I do see many of you wearing dresses, pants, or other special items, and for those students, I applaud you for breaking out of the box. For the rest, please listen in. 


Lululemon, Urban Outfitters, Brandy Melville (bought at Pacsun because the only Brandy Melville store is in Philadelphia, and who has the time for that?), and Princess Polly. While many of you may have only heard of one or two of these brands, I would place a large bet that all of you own at least one item of clothing from these listed stores. 


I suppose the most well-known brand, Lululemon, does deserve its due credit, as even I will admit that their products are extremely wearable. However, is that justifiable for the brand to become the sole staple of our everyday looks? Why is this brand so over-worn? The answer to these questions is simply that the brand is popular. We cling so tightly to what others wear that we lose sight of our identity along the way, becoming a herd with every single ram dressed in black leggings. In addition, there are probably 50 stores that sell black leggings, and yet, without the signature Lululemon squiggle, we immediately reject them and think that all hope is gone. Does that not sound crazy? 


From Lululemon we travel up, reaching a UO or Brandy Melville t-shirt. From cropped henleys to baggy band tees to ruffled hem long sleeves or graphic shirts, the theme remains the same. Of course, it feels great to get the compliment, “I love your outfit,” in reference to your black leggings and graphic tee, but everyone else is wearing the same thing. Of course, your shirt may be cuter, your pants may *gasp* include a pattern, but, in essence, all of these are similar, if not identical, pieces of clothing. The look has become unoriginal, and honestly, boring. 


The other factor to consider is the cost of such fashions. The fact is, all four of these brands are incredibly pricey. Given the price of Lululemon black leggings, such as my personal favorite, the Align, which ranges from 98 – 108 dollars per pair, it is ridiculous that we still stick to these brands. We could purchase black leggings from Aerie for 15 – 30 dollars instead, and yet we chose not to. Why do we act this way when the leggings look the exact same and provide relatively the same support? The truth is that the price difference we pay is, yet again, accredited to the Lululemon label. The same thing is true with shirts, or, in a truly radical change of the tide: cropped sweatshirts. Baggy t-shirts from Urban cost around 69 dollars, which is 60 dollars more than a true vintage band shirt would be. 

I get it, I do; UO is only a short drive away in Suburban Square, an easy and accessible location. The main message that I hope you take away from this is that unique, independent clothing is worth the 15 minutes it will take to find a new brand online, or a shirt of a band that you have actually listened to. (Some ideas of places to search for such things will be coming in further articles.) Convenience is something we value; a direct result of the homework strain or, for many freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, lack of transportation. But once you are introduced to new, different, cost-friendly brands, they will become your routine and your most convenient go-to. What I am saying is, wake up people! Smell the Lulu fabric and realize that a change of cloth is upon us.


Stay tuned and stay you!