Monday, May 4, 2009

Losing Its Cool at the Mall

BEEN THERE, SEEN THAT Abercrombie & Fitch has seen a reduction in shopping traffic among teenagers.

The New York Times - AT the entrance to almost every shopping mall in the country, you will find a directory that, if you are spatially coordinated, will give you an approximate lay of the land. You can gauge the distance from Abercrombie & Fitch to its younger-skewing cousin, Hollister, or its older cousin, Ruehl, and find the way to their closest competitors in the teenager and young adult category, AĆ©ropostale and American Eagle Outfitters.

But you will be no closer to discerning what drives the modern youth from one store to the next; what differentiates one’s frayed cargo shorts from another’s; or why one of them, Abercrombie, is facing a consumer revolt, while others are paradoxically upbeat. A clue: It has to do with price.

During years of rampant consumerism, where teenagers shopped was often more closely tied to what was happening in the pages of US Weekly or InStyle than their families’ financial circumstances. Empires like Abercrombie & Fitch were built on the premise that their products, even $80 jeans and $30 T-shirts with provocative graphics, would be perceived as luxury items if they were sold in the right way. But as teenagers’ priorities rapidly shift away from brands they now perceive as too expensive, the pecking order of mall stores has changed.

1 comment:

Nik Salontay said...

Abercrombie and Fitch is far too expensive, and I've never purchased anything from there. A pair of jeans there costs more with my friend's employee discount than a pair of much better jeans from Express. On top of that, the atmosphere in an A&F store is unsettling. On both sides of the store, there are giant pictures of half dressed men, and the employees are walking around spraying stacks of clothing with cologne.

H&M has the best business model of any mall-centric young adult retail store right now. The German-based store takes really well designed clothes and mass-produces them, then sells them for cheap. The result is cheaper and better looking clothing, in my opinion, and since they just do one mass-production run of most stuff, it's only there for a short time. Every few weeks, everything changes.


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