I'm seeing some trends in the design style of hipper clothing companies. Check out the similarities between the Urban Outfitters site and the Mohawk General Store.
They're so similar in feel that I checked the page code for each but they seem to have been coded by separate developers....
The UX guru from one of these companies needs to go back to their audience and try to understand what it will take to differentiate them. If they are simply designing around the key words "edgy" and "arty", it may not be enough. They need to find the nuances in taste and interest in their customers if they are going to cement a relationship with them.
Like SEO experts have done for their clients, the Experience Designers for these companies need to look for the long tail in their experience design recommendations. Their audience has deep information on what sentiments are important to them (glamor, currency, relatedness etc.) what other sites they are looking at, what they find value in and so on. Additionally sentiment in the context of blogs and forums also needs to be investigated. Using tools like wool.labs' Webdig, these companies can quickly find who they are being compared to (or not) and which segments of their customer base are talking about them and how.
Information from all of these threads can then be quickly flowed in front of the creative and brand teams. Rather than being stifling, this information would be a catalyst for new options in design.