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We almost didn't make it through this week's Critical Shopper column before Cintra Wilson's Ann Taylor review sent us running to the street in a fit of post-liberal-arts-degree angst. We got to the part where she neatly describes Ann Taylor's reputation as "cubicle-wear of so-so quality for the single girl in her late 20s whose self-esteem has been almost beaten to death by the beauty industrial complex and whose decent education has been punished with a thanklessly demanding office job" when we suddenly looked down and wondered if maybe this post could wait while we went shopping at Urban Outfitters. Wilson must have had the same thought, because she showed up to review the store in motocross pants and "Frankenhooker" boots. But it all ends on a high note when Wilson handles the Ann Taylor and discovers that their recession strategy has been to increase the fabric and construction quality until they're dealing in genuinely well-made clothing. The line may still be adamantly edgeless, but it's refreshing for a company to concentrate on making clothes that will last longer, instead of just slapping some studs on them and calling it a day. [NYT]

Urban Outfitters

521 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10175-0003 212 867 4107 Visit Website