Adaptability to changes in the fashion industry has never been so important. It’s one thing to adapt to yearly fashion trends, but the industry has also seen a new shift towards online shopping where teenagers don’t want to shop in malls anymore. Aeropostale follows a trend of bankruptcies in its sector, including Quicksilver and Pacific Sunwear. Aeropostale, unlike its competitors including American Eagle and Abercrombie & Fitch, was unable to shift its strategy in time which forced the multinational clothing company with over 800 stores to file for bankruptcy last Wednesday. The company was valued at $30 million before its filing, from its previous peak of $3 billion in 2010.
The fast fashion brands that are thriving, most notably Zara and H&M, have a core strategy based on a constant change in the clothing they sell, and they achieve this by tracking customer preferences by region and reproducing what high fashion brands are selling. This gives fast fashion brands an incredible flexibility and quick reaction time to any changes in trends.
Abercrombie & Fitch recently attempted to turn around their business by releasing a completely new collection, verging away from its trademark preppy clothing with a large mousse logo. This was an effort in the right direction, contrary to established brands like Aeropostale that had trouble adapting to new market trends.
When five years ago every teen (including myself) wanted an Abercrombie polo and an American Apparel zipper hoodie, most teens now shop online and at less branded, fast fashion retailers. It used to be that you wanted to fit into a mold and everyone looks the same, but now teens are thinking about how they can stand out. It is now more important than ever to prove a flexible business model, and we will see in the next few years which brands manage to adapt and stand the test of time.