Thanks to changing tastes of the teen demographic and the landslide of bad press the company has received over the past year, the Abercrombie & Fitch brand no longer wields the same power it once did. With sales continuing to flounder, the clothing retailer has decided to abandon its time-honored tradition of plastering its name and logo on virtually every piece of attire it sells, effectively robbing rich frat boy types of their identities.
“In the spring season, we are looking to take the North American logo business to practically nothing,” Mark Jeffries, CEO of A&F told investors on a conference call. And in a note to investors Thursday, Richard Jaffe, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, noted that “it’s taking time to win back customers.” But he believes that the merchandise changes are “gaining traction.”
While much of the brand’s weakening can likely be attributed to the recent Abercrombie-only-wants-pretty-and-cool-kids-wearing-their-clothes controversy, this branding shift is also about keeping up with the changing preferences of teens, who are more interested in standing out as individuals (while all wearing the same trendy top from H&M or Forever 21) than fitting in under a universally-recognized logo.
“Personal style, specifically with teens, is becoming less about fitting in and more about standing out,” Lauren Wolfenden, a senior advisory analyst at WGSN, a fashion trend consultancy, told The Christian Science Monitor. “A&F has wised up to this by phasing out the cookie-cutter logo-ed product look and bringing in trendy pieces that can be worn in a multitude of different ways.”
Whether this move will help the struggling retailer regain some ground has yet to be seen, but we think there may be a bigger issue to consider here: with the general public suddenly losing its most reliable way of immediately recognizing a douche in the wild, we may all need to brush up on our observation skills and train ourselevs to pick up on other cues. Here’s a quick list of warning signs for your reference: poor attitude, a sense of entitlement, and the number of drums of protein powder and cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon in the kitchen of the individual in question. Be safe out there.