Aeropostale used to be one of the most popular teen retailers.
Cheaper than Abercrombie & Fitch, and less bohemian than American Eagle, the brand was the go-to for teens who still wanted to fit in with the trends.
But those days are gone.
This June, Crain’s New York reported that the retailer lost 95% of its value in just five years. The brand is in the process of closing 175 of its 860 stores.
One reason for this massive decline? Teens are fleeing the brand in droves.
Piper Jaffray surveyed teens to find out where they are — and aren’t — shopping in its semiannual Taking Stock With Teens Survey.
The brand ranked at the top for brands that upper-income females no longer wear. Between 22 and 32% of teens surveyed over the past two years say they no longer shop there.
And it didn’t rank too favourably for upper-income males, either — although the brand is in not as dire straits with men as it is with women.
The brand has been trying to reconnect with its target audience. Its blog features aesthetics not too unfamiliar to those who scour Pinterest on a regular basis.
The retailer even secured popular YouTube personality Bethany Mota for her own collections last year.
But the retailer is missing the mark.
Take it from a teen herself.
Last year, blogger and Rookie contributor Hazel Cills wrote fashion website Racked an email, explaining why she thought Aeropostale no longer resonated with shoppers:
“Clothes from Aeropostale are like nostalgia objects now … definitely think teenagers aren’t as into the labels and logos of Aeropostale clothes because of this. The ‘Aeropostale’ label doesn’t carry the same stylish weight it used to. I don’t think it’s that kids aren’t interested in wearing labels on their shirts, I think it’s just that wearing the Aeropostale name on your shirt, like the Abercrombie & Fitch moose, is dated. I associate Aeropostale with clean-cut preppiness and I think teens are more interested in jean cut-offs, boho-leaning, and fake vintage styles. Shopping at thrift stores is now popular, which is the opposite of getting an expensive, labelled t-shirt… the days of Aeropostale being ‘cool’ are over and it’s not a brand that teenagers are gravitating towards.”
Traditional retailers already have a hard time keeping up with fast fashion empires like H&M and Zara, which churn out the fashion teens see on Instagram rapidly, but Aeropostale is even lagging behind traditional retailers.
In May, analysts did not feel confident about the brand’s plans to turn itself around.
But on recent earnings call, CEO Julian R. Geiger seemed optimistic about Aeropostale’s future.
“We are a very different company today than we were 12 months ago. We have a vision of a brand positioned in the proper niche … We have started to regain some of the customers who left us in recent years, and most important, we have begun seeing a change in the vitality of the business. Clearly, we all understand that these are only small steps in the right direction. While nobody is claiming victory at this point, internally we all believe that victory will come,” he said.
He also said that the brand plans to tone down its insane discounts.
“This is the first time in a while that I would actually say that I think that the vitality or nature of the promotional activity has gone down,” he said on the earnings call. “There are less signs; less — the numbers on those signs are both smaller physically and numerically.”
Analysts have said that Aeropostale needs to perform strongly for more than just one season in order to resuscitate itself.
“Abercrombie & Fitch is in a similar situation to Aeropostale,” Guggenheim Securities analyst Howard Tubin said to The Wall Street Journal. “I don’t know if the back-to-school season will be the end all be all for either of these brands. I think they need to do well this fall, and into next spring.”
But for now, it looks like teens just aren’t that interested.
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