Trending: Rebranding Existing Stores

Isn’t interesting how certain stores can thrive for a while…and then one day…almost disappear into nothing?  Let me name a few stores and I bet you’ll know what I’m talking about.  Gap.  J.Crew. Abercrombie & Fitch.  So, yeah, those are definitely still around and well known.  However, at one point in time, your responses to those brand names may have been a bit more enthusiastic.  Not so very long ago, these were the “cool kid stores”.  And now, these three brands are struggling to make it in a very different shopping climate.

A & F Quarterly, Christmas Issue 2000: A Very Emerson Christmas [Abercrombie and Fitch] by Weber, Bruce
Once upon a time, all the coolest and most elite were shrouded in Gap, A&F, or J.Crew.  But times have changed.  It’s interesting to read about what these brands are trying to do and also just to ponder why this is happening…and I think there are a myriad of reasons to be quite honest.

These brands rose to popularity at a time when it was cool to wear brands.  Logo tees were it and your status had to do with that A&F polo shirt, those Gap painter’s jeans, or that J.Crew jacket.  These things were synonymous with “the in crowd”.   Now, we are living in an era where it’s cooler to wear things from a thrift store or handmade from Etsy than it is to go drop cash at the local Gap.  It seems that now people not only care more about styles than about brands (like whether it came from Target or J.Crew, no one cares), but also where their clothes originated from.  There are more people who want to know where their clothing was made and how it was made.  Ethical fashion is becoming more, er, fashionable.  And another thing…when these stores were “in” (think of the show Friends when Joey said: “damn Gap on every corner!”) there really wasn’t Zara, Asos, or H&M in the United States.  Not to mention that when Target rebranded themselves as THE place to shop for in-style clothing, that delivered a near deathly blow to many of the stores who had little to no competition prior to this.

These retailers aren’t taking this lying down.  Abercrombie actually went so far as to delete their entire Instagram feed to start over again with a new image.  JCrew hired the former fashion director of Madewell to give their clothes a new lifespan.  Gap has struggled with logo changes gone awry, missed trends, and  general lackluster overall choices…only time will tell whether they can change the downward trend in sales and survive the new era of shopping and style choices.

So far, seems like JCrew has done an amazing job of keeping things fresh and even channeling Gucci a little bit in their new line!  My bet is they will have no problem coming back from decline with bright flying colors.  The other two…we will have to see won’t we!

Have you looked at the Abercrombie website recently?  I looked out of curiosity and it definitely was different from the typical look I would expect from them.  My take on their new site is that they are trying to hit a lot of trends all at once, and figure out who they are.  I get it.  We all go through awkward phases sometimes…and hopefully they’ll come out of it with a new and fun identity!

Happy Monday