Watching the decline of Abercrombie & Fitch is like watching the rich, popular kids in school slowly lose their clout. The retailer's been in a lot of trouble these days as the brand continues to flail. Abercrombie, once the preferred label of all the cool kids in high school, has fallen from glory. The retailer is scrambling now to reorganize and rebrand, so it might enjoy the prosperity it did back in the early aughts. Since 2010, it's shuttered about 220 stores in the U.S., with plans to close 60 to 70 more this year. While it seems to be doing just fine in Asia, the U.S. market is far too lucrative for the brand to let it go.
Abercrombie has already resolved to make clothes in larger sizes, is eliminating the low lighting and strong perfume spray in stores and is even planning to add black merchandise to its offerings. But perhaps the biggest change it's made is in the brand description, which has now been modified to seem a little less…snooty.
Before this latest update, Abercrombie's brand statement said the label was "rooted in East Coast traditions and Ivy League heritage," as the symbol of "privilege and casual luxury." Similar wording was used for abercrombie kids, which it is now calling a&f kids, describing the label as "the essence of privilege and prestigious East Coast prep schools." The verbiage has been modified to sound more inclusive, doing away almost completely with the elitist angle. Now, Abercrombie is "the essence of laidback sophistication with an element of simplicity," which "sets the standard for great taste." A&f kids is less about pedigree, now focused on "the essence of fun and friendship, a&f kids celebrates each moment by sharing its effortless great taste with the world." Hollister's wording remains mostly unchanged.
The Abercrombie company's long been due for a makeover, and now that the brand is trying to do away with the image that helped it gain popularity a decade ago, it looks like they're going to have to bring the very people they deemed rejects, in this case, plus-sizes and public school kids, into the fold.