vintage simulacra and thrive on the concept that consumers watch other consumers.
‘Urban Outtters’ are also experts at communication, and use the communication itself as part of
the brand. In 1964, McLuhan described this as ‘the medium is the message’. Their very presence onFacebook shows that they model themselves to be part of the student community. Many brands use
Facebook, but few have personal proles for each branch, where the brand can become your friend.Each Urban Outtters store has a prole on Facebook to connect with the student community directly.This is the rst demonstration of UO using the medium as the message.
Communication can take many forms though, and is not always as obvious as Facebook. The hyper-real environment is another example where the medium is the message. Baudrillard (1970) discusseshow ‘interacting in a hyperreal place like a Las Vegas casino gives the subject the impression that he iswalking through a fantasy world where everyone is playing along. What isn’t a dream is that the casinotakes his money, which he is more likely to give when his consciousness doesn’t really understandwhat’s going on.’ McLuhan (1964) elaborates adding that ‘it is the medium that shapes and controls thescale and form of human association and action.’ McLuhan and Baudrillard’s theorems draw many par-
allels with ‘Urban Outtters’, who are experts at creating a strong hyperreal environment. Their arrival
on the modern high street has seen the birth of ‘student lockdowns’; essentially shop parties wherethe student is lured into what their consciousness believes is a social event. In this case, it is the com-munity events such as the student lockdowns that make the said group of people associate with each
other based on their common consumption in ‘Urban Outtters’. Even those that believe they do not
consume in UO, the store creates the impression that it cares and is part of the community as it hostswork from local music and art colleges, when of course the reality is it is a business being directed from
an ofce in the USA. ‘Abercrombie & Fitch’ are guilty of this on a much wider and brasher scale. Theirstores are permanently dark, and employ loud music, ashing lights and dancers to resemble a club,
forcing the mind into a hyperreal gear.
Some companies have a limited number of stores, making their brand exclusive and sought-after to all;
‘it goads the millionaire as it does the middle-class tourist.’ (Eco, 1986) It creates an almost cult-like sit-
uation where people travel long distances to stores. In the case of Apple Retail Stores, regional follow
-ings often lobby for store openings in their regional capitals. In both of these scenarios, the consumeris led to believe they are a partygoer, or in the latter case, a tourist visiting a tourist site. This ‘masks