Abercrombie is poised to become the comeback of the year

Abercrombie & Fitch has been a disaster for several years.

The retailer’s sales have been in a free fall. The company has been closing stores amid competition from fast fashion companies like H&M and Forever 21.

However, the brand now seems poised for a turnaround.

The new selection of women’s clothes on the website marks a departure from the preppy clothing that had given the brand a bad reputation and sent sales plummeting.

The brand is now completely reinventing itself by offering trendy, minimalist designs.

In the early aughts, wearing Abercrombie & Fitch was a status symbol for many teens.

“In schools across America, Abercrombie is shorthand for popular,” Time magazine wrote in 2000.

But soon, public opinion began to turn against Abercrombie. Controversial former CEO and Chairman Mike Jeffries openly disclosed to Salon in 2006 that the brand did not aim to be inclusive, instead aiming to attract the “cool kids… the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends,” as he said.

The brand faced even more criticism for refusing to sell clothing to larger women. (The retailer balked in late 2013 and agreed to stock larger sizes).

The company is also facing a lawsuit from over 62,000 former and current salesclerks who claim they lost wages for needing to purchase mandated apparel to wear to work.

Hurt by bad press, the brand still failed to execute in the fashion department. Earlier this year, its website demonstrated the mindset of an out-of-touch retailer that was scrambling to keep up with fast fashion and athleisure brands.

However, the brand now seems poised for a turnaround.

Its mean, judgmental spirit has turned more upbeat. The company overhauled its stringent hot salesclerk policy in 2015, although some loose rules still apply (“They still can’t wear extreme makeup or jewellery, but the rules are gentle, Lindsay Rupp of Bloomberg wrote).

Lucky Magazine’s Katia Kuethe joined the brand as creative director.

For the most recent quarter, Abercrombie’s shares increased, although same-store sales were still down.

Abercrombie modelAbercrombie & FitchOne of Abercrombie’s newer selections.

But there’s good news: the brand’s most recent selection of clothing renders the brand nearly unrecognizable — even cool.

Abercrombie officially earned its fashion industry gold star when the popular blog Man Repeller deemed it to, yes, be cool again.

“What “the new Abercrombie” no longer has is that recognisable-from-anywhere A&F look; no iconic silhouette for similar high street brands to emulate. That day is gone,” wrote Amelia Diamond for Man Repeller. “But for a brand that once pushed away its customers by strategically making others feel excluded, this new open-arms style similar to Zara or H&M — Come in on a whim and possibly leave with an outfit for tonight! is a smart move.

“It will cause nostalgic shoppers and potential new buyers to pause by that intoxicating blend of too much cologne and too much music and think, ‘Why not? Let’s go in,” Diamond writes.

Abercrombie & Fitch new women's lineAbercrombie & FitchOne of Abercrombie’s newer selections.

While Abercrombie has phased out logos he store still sells a selection of its namesake logo shirts with the brand emblazoned across the chest. But more noticeable are the chambray shirt dresses and fall-friendly sweaters.

Abercrombie women'sAbercrombie & FitchOne of Abercrombie’s newer selections.

The new selection proves that Abercrombie is beginning to truly turn the brand’s reputation around — now the brand just has to improve its sales. A solid selection is a good place to start for a massive comeback.

“Abercrombie & Fitch may be the comeback kid of 2015,”
Man Repeller boldly stated. It seems entirely plausible.

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