Fashion news this past week has been ridiculously busy reporting on the fact that Abercrombie & Fitch is going to phase out their logos by 2015. Why this is considered such a big deal is beyond us. It simply shows how out of touch Abercrombie (and much of the adult fashion industry) has been for years when it comes to today’s youth culture.
In our youth culture research regarding fashion, logos have been unpopular among 13-25-year-olds for some time now. The brands that have increased in preferences among youth culture today often have zero to little logo-ing going on. Instead the emphasis has moved towards design, fit, quality, of course price, and even sustainability.
There’s no question that Abercrombie & Fitch was not on target as we saw the brand drop in rankings at a steady pace each year. In addition, it was challenged in the department of discounting and failed to see that its main competition, for example, wasn’t The Gap, but rather H&M and Forever 21. (Which reminds us of a presentation we once gave and reminded Quiksilver that their main competition wasn’t Billabong, but rather H&M, Levi’s, and Target.)
Teens have also clearly preferred the no-logo logo movement for a good 6 or 7 years, moving towards American Apparel aesthetics where no logo is ever apparent. Was Abercrombie in such a bubble as to not see this coming?
“In the spring season, we’re looking to take the North American logo business to practically nothing,” Chief Executive Mike Jeffries said on a conference call to discuss the company’s quarterly results Thursday.
Abercrombie’s sales in the three months ended Aug. 2 fell 6% from a year earlier to $891 million. During the first quarter, the Abercrombie repurchased 3.8 million shares of its common stock at an aggregate cost of $150 million through an accelerated share repurchase. It’s planning to close another 60 stores. To combat other problems, Abercrombie is speeding up its supply chain so that is can lower its prices.
But for a new generation that’s grown up through their teens in a recession, buying discount is the new norm, meaning things may be too late for Abercrombie which not only charged way too much in comparison with other teen retailers, and got into discounting trouble.
And now, for many reasons, they just aren’t cool. Dropping their logos for the US marketplace just means hiding who they really are, which is a teen retailer/brand that didn’t stay up with trends.