Anyone who went to a public school in America in the late 90s and early 2000s knows that all the cool kids wore either Abercrombie & Fitch, Aeropostale, or American Eagle Outfitters. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. You either wore those ridiculously small tee shirts with the brand name blasted across it or you were a loser. I was a self proclaimed loser because I refused to purchase clothes from those stores. I had a part time job at The Gap and I’d be damned if I shopped anywhere else. Between my 50% discount at The Gap and 30% discount at Old Navy and Banana Republic, I had no need for any other stores. That being said, I was basically a walking billboard for The Gap, but let’s face it, there are worse things that could happen.
Remembering how popular those brands are, I find it fairly shocking that the titans of teen clothing are faltering. I mean, faltering hardcore. The New York Times recently wrote about the stream of tears that are being shed by said retailer’s CEOs. Where did all the teens and tweens go? Well, I’ll let you in on a secret, they’re still there, they just aren’t that into you. With the prevalence of fast fashion retailers like H&M, TopShop, Mango, and Uniglo, teens are are able to copy runway inspired looks at a quarter of the price. No one wants to dress like Lizzie McGuire anymore. Now, the average 14 year old is seeking inspiration from the latest It girls like Olivia Palermo and Alexa Chung. And even in the fly-over, midwest states that might not have access to H&M or Zara, Target’s designer collaborations are an easy way to access the latest trends. Place on top of that the fact that teens just aren’t working as much as they used to-so their discretionary income is pretty much nil- and you’ve got a whole lotta half dressed Abercrombie models sulking around empty, dimly lit, over fragranced stores. It’s enough to make you want to cry, or laugh uncontrollably.
I mean, honestly, how long did people think they were going to be able to ride that bubble? The average shirt at Abercrombie costs $60. $60 for a shrunken, plaid, cotton, button down shirt. You know where you can get the same looking shirt, for less money? H&M. Teens don’t want to shell out money on stuff they can get cheaper. Teens want to keep their money so they can spend it on Zynga games or iTunes albums. They don’t care about wearing a zip up hoodie with a large A and E stitched across the front. Teens don’t even want cars anymore. All I wanted in high school was my own car, even though I knew I wasn’t going to get one. And I didn’t get one until I could pay for myself when I turned 19 and bought a $900 1994 Ford Escort. It was white and had a hatchback and it was awesome. Those two large dents in the front added character.