The writing was on the wall for Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, as the teen retailer continued to struggle to re-capture its credibility within the youth marketplace. As of today, December 9, 2014 Mike Jeffries will no longer be the CEO.
Jeffries, 70, was also stripped of his chairman roll earlier in the year. Two new executives have come on board, as part of the deal with Engaged Capital LLC, an investor, to head up Abercrombie and Hollister.
Abercrombie & Fitch used to be the teen sensation in the ‘90’s as well as their brand Hollister which made surf brands incredibly nervous with its surf-inspired apparel. However Abercrombie was not only not on trend for today’s youth marketplace, but actually pissed-off a large percentage of their target market by flat out stating (from their CEO) the “beautiful” types of young people they were trying to appeal to.
Overall, it’s time to call things out for what they really are when it comes to the demise of certain teen retailers. The “3 A’s” including American Eagle, Aeropostale, and Abercrombie & Fitch have been having a hard time of things for a couple of years, and yet there still seems to be a lack of understanding in why teens no longer find these brands attractive. As we’ve been saying and tracking in our Youth Culture Studies for the past few years, we saw this coming a mile away. Percentages among specific demographics declined fast, and other teen brands and retailers climbed in the other direction—meaning that teen retail isn’t dead, but the buying patterns of teens has changed tremendously, and there are many reasons for this.
In a recent article by Business of Fashion on the topic of the 3 A’s, they point out that these stores have had a hard time competing with fast-fashion brands such as H&M, Zara, Forever 21, and the lack of popularity of shopping in malls. While, yes, these have been contributing factors, they are not the entire reasons.
In addition, Aerpostale and American Eagle were late to the movement when it came to getting rid of their oversized logos on everything. Which was so 2006. The no-logo logo movement, launched primarily with brands like American Apparel, changed the game, but all 3 failed to see the shifts. Since 2010, American Eagle has closed up to 50 stores and Aerpostale has closed some 125 stores.
Now for Abercrombie & Fitch, the search is on for a new CEO to take the reins and try to revive the brand.