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. The retailer has filed for bankruptcy protection, though it says it will be out of debt in six months.
Last June, Crain’s New York reported that the retailer lost 95% of its value in just five years. The brand has plans to close 113 stores in the US and all 41 stores in Canada. According to Reuters, it had 739 stores and 25 PS from Aeropostale stores as of Sunday.
One reason for this massive decline? Teens are fleeing the brand in droves.
Piper Jaffray polled teens in its semiannual Taking Stock With Teens Survey to find out where they were – and weren’t – shopping.
Aeropostale ranked at the top for brands that upper-income females no longer wear. Twenty-two to 32% of teens surveyed over the past two years said they no longer shopped there.
- Piper Jaffray
And it didn’t rank too favorably for upper-income males, either, though the brand is in not as dire straits with men as it is with women.
- Piper Jaffray
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.
- REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
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 the 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, labeled t-shirt… the days of Aeropostale being ‘cool’ are over and it’s not a brand that teenagers are gravitating towards.”
- Thomson Reuters
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.
Abercrombie & Fitch has been trying to keep up with contemporary fashion with last fall’s collection. The brand has scaled down its use of logos. Analysts have said Aeropostale needs to perform strongly for more than just one season to survive.
“Abercrombie & Fitch is in a similar situation to Aeropostale,” Guggenheim Securities analyst Howard Tubin told 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 as if teens just aren’t that interested.