We went shopping at Dressbarn the day after it announced all its stores would close and saw why it's fallen behind

Irene Jiang / Business InsiderDressbarn is closing all 650 of its stores.
  • Dressbarn’s parent company, Ascena, announced on Monday that it would close all 650 Dressbarn stores.
  • We visited a Dressbarn store in New York and found hollow display cases and shelves beginning to empty. Otherwise, it was a tidy and organised store.
  • Dressbarn’s outdated clothing, convoluted pricing system, and clunky aesthetic gave us a clue as to why the store may have fallen out of style.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Dressbarn’s parent company, Ascena, announced on Monday that it would close all 650 Dressbarn retail locations.

Founded in 1962 by Roslyn Jaffe to accommodate the fashion needs of an increasing number of working women, Dressbarn has been haemorrhaging money since 2014.

We visited a Dressbarn store in New York’s Financial District to see why Dressbarn fell behind its competitors:


The name “Dressbarn” is already painfully reminiscent of a time when barns were a bigger part of the American cultural consciousness. It has aged about as well as hoedowns and black-and-white TV. The word “barn” evokes cavernous spaces filled with hay, cows, and cow pies — more giddy-up than glow-up.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Speaking of cavernous spaces, Dressbarn’s display windows had already started to empty out by the time I arrived on Tuesday.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

But for some reason, there was still a hiring ad on the front door. Happiness may have worked here once, but it will soon be in the same boat as the rest of Dressbarn’s employees.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Inspiration, thy name is not the display mannequins at Dressbarn. However, the store was still well organised and fully stocked, for the most part.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Black slacks as a work uniform may still be standard in some contexts, but they are definitely not as ubiquitous as they were 10 years ago.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

There were a lot of floral options here. I get that it’s nearly summer, but these dresses felt as if they were recycling the same ideas. However, this section was very well put-together. The racks were neat too.

Irene Jiang / Business InsiderIrene Jiang / Business Insider

These tops were 50% off, but their saccharine floral patterns were nearly indistinguishable from one another.

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With little to offer other than its signing bonus of 15% off, Dressbarn’s credit card didn’t provide much of an impetus for joining.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Here were two more layers of discounts.

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And here was yet another loyalty program. How many calculations do you have to do at Dressbarn to figure out how much you’re actually spending?

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But wait! There’s more! Are DB Perks different from DB Dollars? And how does the credit card play into this?

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Finally, some shoes to take my mind off the infinite mysteries of Dressbarn’s pricing strategy. They were nice shoes too. These were the first empty-ish shelves I saw in the store — harbingers of the inventory’s liquidation.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

I encountered even emptier shelves on the other side of the store — also stocked with shoes, but in a different layout. Why weren’t all the shoes in one place?

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

There was a vacuum-cleaner-like humidifier by a mirror.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Even with all the deals, the store was mostly empty of shoppers. While I was there, employees spent most of their time idly rearranging racks, which is probably why they looked so meticulously organised. The accessory stands by the checkout counter were already starting to look a little lean.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The dressing rooms were empty, as was the rack for unwanted clothing.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

There was a handy-dandy shapewear rack in the dressing-room area.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Like its name, Dressbarn’s products lag years behind current trends. Its convoluted discount and loyalty system is an ill match for today’s Instagram-fuelled shopping culture that rewards trendy, simply priced products. Dressbarn may have begun a women’s officewear revolution in the ’60s, but its time seems to have passed.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

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