NEW YORK —
Abercrombie must "look at ways to tie in with this creative class in a way that their brand will continue to resonate," Merriman said. "They're positioned well to take advantage of this group's desire to be rebellious and indie and different, because that's what the brand is about, but right now the product mix doesn't communicate that or facilitate it."
American Eagle, which generated comparable-store and online sales growth of 9 percent in its second quarter and 17 percent in the first, is scoring with such fashionable items as camisoles with Peter Pan collars, pleated chiffon blouses and college-team Ts. By contrast, Abercrombie continues to sell a uniform, such as a $30 graphic T proclaiming: "She wears flip flops seven days a week, she loves late nights & early mornings, she's an A&F girl."
Jeffries told analysts and investors earlier this month that the company is working to improve its supply chain so that it can chase fashion trends more quickly.
Merriman says the brand also needs to move beyond hot models to resonate with a cohort looking for a deeper message, such as the altruism conveyed by Toms shoes, which donates a pair to the needy for every one purchased.
"Abercrombie is still running an offense which is a huge banner of a bare-chested guy with a cute girl who's not wearing enough clothing," said David Maddocks, a former chief marketing officer for Nike's Converse sneakers label, who now runs a lifestyle brand consulting firm based in Portland, Ore. "It's vacuous, there's no core idea there anymore and people want the richness that comes with real authenticity."
Abercrombie needs to create a new and exciting store experience because teens text and share about stores and products they like, Lindstrom said.