Philly Fashion Startups: Former Urban Outfitters CEO Glen Senk Wants to Give You Money


Photo by Matthew Gilson. Image via Chicago Booth Magazine.

You know Glen Senk. Even if you don’t think you know Glen Senk, you know him. He’s the guy who helped launch Anthropologie—the guy responsible for turning that single Wayne prototype store, which at that time didn’t sell any of its cool antique props, into a lifestyle mega-brand. He was the CEO of Urban Outfitters from 2007 until 2012. (A note: Urban’s quarterly sales have been steadily sinking since his resignation. Coincidence?) And now he’s decided that instead of leading a company, he’s going to help get many of them off the ground. Yep, this means investing—to the tune of $350 million.

Say whaaaa?

Coming Next Month: Urban Outfitters Fitness Brand

Shoppist’s sister site Be Well Philly spilled the details on Without Walls, the new Urban Outfitters outdoors and fitness brand slated to launch March 1st. The promo video is enticing (it almost makes me want to go camping) and the gear looks cool—bright patterned tights, colorful sports bras, colorblocked windbreakers, one questionable bodysuit. Surely it will be a more affordable option than Lululemon, which I’ve come to think of as the John Galliano of workout wear: pretty to look at, uber-expensive, and always embroiled in some sort of controversy.

But there’s a hitch.

Gawker: Urban Outfitters Carries Bestiality Book

We don’t blame Gawker for making fun and drawing attention to Philly-based Urban Outfitters and a book it’s selling, rather graphically depicting beastiality.

In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone fucking an actual pig before in my life, or being fucked by a pig, as the case may be. Certainly not a three-way. Not until today, when I went to Urban Outfitter’s website to browse through the books section anyway.

Anyone who’s familiar with the work of photographer and writer Paul Kwiatkowski, whose And Every Day Was Overcast is a sordid visual-textual novel about growing up in South Florida – drugs, poverty, violence, sex, pig sex, I guess? – certainly has to have a tolerance for the shocking, but this is probably a little bit edgier than the company is aiming for.

But this seems like a bit of a somersault to perform:

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Anthropologie Slotted As Anchor Tenant for Newtown Development

newtown promenade rendering

Early rendering of the Newtown Promenade development.

Over at our sister site, Shoppist, the news is good for Bucks County Anthro fans: The Promenade development in Newtown Township — which is planned as several retail stores and 26 luxury apartments — has reached “an agreement in principle” with Anthropologie, owned by Urban Outfitters Inc., to be its anchor tenant. The reason the language is tentative right now is because Promenade developers have yet to secure funding for the project, which can’t happen until problems with the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority are resolved.

But Urban Chief Development Officer Dave Ziel is clearly optimistic about the development’s future — and he is not a guy who speaks off the cuff. “Anthropologie is incorporating the final deal points and we are hopeful of completing the transaction is the very near future,” he told the Bucks County Courier Times. (This isn’t the Promenade’s first dance with Anthropologie, which was slated to be a tenant before and then pulled out.)

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Urban Outfitters’ Crazy Lehigh University Project

Urban Outfitters co-founder Scott Belair, Lehigh U ’69, is giving his alma mater a $20 million grant (with more to come, apparently) to create a sort of satellite campus/”innovation incubator” on top of a hill where students will roam around dreaming up genius ways to change the world, with little to no guidance from anyone else. They call it…”The Mountaintop Project.” Really.

Operating much like a study-abroad program, Lehigh students will head to Mountaintop for an entire semester to focus on nothing but their big idea to change the world. They’ll get guidance from their professors and colleagues — if they want it — but the concept, process and solutions will be all theirs. “We need to breed a new generation of risk-takers,” Lehigh University President Alice Gast said Wednesday. “Our current system of education rewards the risk-averse: It’s listening to lectures and passing tests. This is an effort to break through and show what education can be.”

If they don’t change the world, do they pass the class? The new campus will be located in a few former Bethlehem Steel factories. [Morning Call]

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