Tucked away in between tourist shops and a furniture store on 3rd and Arch Streets, a mere block from the Betsy Ross House, The Outrage has a slightly unassuming facade. Lacking a formal sign or awning, it embodies the “brick and mortar” aesthetic. Yet, step inside and you’ll find yourself immersed in a room filled to the brim with progressive and feminist merchandise, apparel, accessories, and more. Though the space is not that much larger than an average–sized classroom, I still spend upwards of thirty minutes browsing the various racks and table spreads.
T–shirts with phrases like “Believe Women,” “This Land is Whose Land,” and “Impeach the Motherf*cker” cover the walls. The window sills are lined with votive candles with faces of various historical female figures affixed to each. In need of snarky feminist socks, a Ruth Bader Ginsburg action figure, some new laptop stickers, or a baby onesie with the phrase “Families Belong Together” across the front? “We have you covered,” The Outrage's Philadelphia City Lead Ashley Brown says with a laugh.
Brown, who is enrolled in the Wharton MBA Program for this fall, said The Outrage started during the 2016 presidential election cycle, capitalizing on Hillary Clinton’s run as a reactionary platform to some of the rhetoric stemming from Donald Trump’s campaign. When Trump uttered the phrase “such a nasty woman” in reference to Clinton, media—both social and national—went into a frenzy. While many reacted in anger, Rebecca Lee Funk, Outrage founder and CEO, saw an opportunity—in the following days she launched a series of “Nasty Women Unite” apparel items online, all of which sold out.
As the platform gained momentum, The Outrage found a space for a pop–up store, and ended up becoming the official merchandise partner for the 2017 Women’s Marches. “We had lines wrapped around the block, sometimes four hours long, almost every day of those six weeks [of the pop–up]” Brown said. Since then, The Outrage has also partnered with the 2018 and 2019 Women’s Marches, the March for Science, and the March for Our Lives.
The Outrage now has two physical locations: one in D.C., and one here, in the Old City neighborhood of Philly, which opened in October 2017. Their philosophy is simple: “We’re on a mission to raise one million dollars for progressive organizations,” Brown said. They do so by donating with every purchase to progressive–leaning organizations like Planned Parenthood or the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Some shirts are tied to specific organizations, and a portion of the proceeds made from their sales goes directly to help that cause.
Their marketing is on point as well, as, for the past two years, they’ve continued to serve up line after line of minimalist and modern–looking clothing pieces that can be incorporated into everyday wear. These don’t look like your run–of–the–mill campaign shirts, and that’s precisely the point, Brown notes.
“There was a lot of feminist apparel being made that was either produced completely by rich white men profiting off of the message but were not giving back to any of the organizations the whole message was supposed to be about,” Brown said, referencing RedBubble and other online outlets. “Or there were smaller shops,” she continued, “but they weren’t really aesthetically on point—cutesy, lots of flowers, and not really simple.”
The Outrage falls somewhere in the middle—a small, semi–locally owned clothing brand that prides itself on its start–up roots, but still is producing apparel that rivals that of national fast fashion retail spots. “We get the message across at an elevated design level,” Brown said.
Moving forward, Brown hopes the Philadelphia branch of The Outrage might one day have a community building or space that mirrors the one recently opened in DC, where they could host community events, like poetry readings, book signings, or even book and knitting circles. This space could also provide a venue for grassroots activist groups and campaigns to meet privately. “We want to be [a] community building. We want to obviously sell our apparel to outfit the resistance and so that people can wear their values, but we also want to give people platforms to speak.” In the meantime, Brown hopes The Outrage can partner with more organizations as they have for marches and national events in months past, but on a more local level, and with a volunteer or pro bono element to it.
Since working at the Philadelphia location of the Outrage, Brown said that nothing has fulfilled her more than seeing people’s reactions to the store. “I have so many tourists coming in here from blue pockets of red states, like Arkansas, Texas, Indiana—who visibly breathe a sigh of relief when they walk in,” Brown said. In this way, Brown continued, The Outrage creates a sort of safe space for visitors—be they residents of Philly or tourists from elsewhere.
“Yes, these shirts are super cute, designed really well, ethically sourced—all things that are important to shoppers nowadays,” Brown concluded, “but also, they let people express themselves when they might not otherwise be able to, and I just think that’s amazing.”
The Outrage is located at 321 Arch Street and is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Sunday. It's closed on Mondays.