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Abercrombie is poised to become the comeback of the year

Published by Business Insider on Sun, 20 Sep 2015

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 brandnowseems poised for a turnaround.The new selection of women's clothes on the website marks adeparture from the preppy clothing that had given the brand a bad reputation and sentsales plummeting.The brand is nowcompletely reinventing itselfby 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.ControversialformerCEO and Chairman Mike Jeffries openly disclosed to Salon in 2006 thatthe brand did not aim to be inclusive, instead aiming toattract 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 criticismfor 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 lawsuitfrom over 62,000 former and current salesclerks who claim they lost wages for needing to purchase mandated apparel to wear to work.Hurtby bad press, the brandstill failed to execute in the fashion department. Earlier this year, its website demonstrated the mindset of an out-of-touch retailerthat was scrambling to keep up with fast fashion and athleisure brands.However, the brandnowseems 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 cant wear extreme makeup or jewelry, 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.But there's good news: the brand's most recent selection of clothing renders the brand nearly unrecognizableeven 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 recognizable-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' Lets go in," Diamond writes.While Abercrombie has phased out logoshestore still sells a selection ofits namesake logo shirts with the brand emblazoned across the chest. But more noticeable are the chambray shirt dresses and fall-friendly sweaters.The new selection proves that Abercrombie is beginning to truly turn the brand's reputation aroundnow 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 Repellerboldly stated. It seems entirely plausible.SEE ALSO:One of the biggest retail disasters of the last 3 years is finally cool againJoin the conversation about this storyNOW WATCH: New aerial footage shows aftermath of explosion in China
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