Will American Eagle’s new ‘consciously-made, slow fashion’ concept take off? – RetailWire

Jun 24, 2020

George Anderson

East Hampton on New York’s Long Island is a place where the rich, famous and others go to get away from the grind of the city during the summer months. It is also home to a new start of sorts for American Eagle Outfitters (AEO), which has opened a concept store in the community that appears to mirror the new take on life that many feel after months confined to their homes by the coronavirus pandemic and the emotional tumult many feel as protests against racial inequality continue.

The new concept — Unsubcribed — bills itself as the antithesis to the fast-fashion approach to apparel and accessories. An Instagram page with photos of beach scenes describes Unsubscribed as “consciously-made, slow fashion,” adding “we believe in being kind­ — to ourselves, to each other, and the world. nothing more. nothing less.”

Women’s Wear Daily, which first broke the news about the new concept, reports that Unsubscribed plans to feature only two collections a year made up of its own private label as well as third-party brands, a departure for AEO. Brands include Boyish, Indego Africa, Melissa Joy Manning and Veja. Prices will start at $5 for accessories and climb as high as $550 for dresses.

AEO has not announced plans for expansion of the concept, apparently taking it slow, as it adds a fourth banner to its portfolio in addition to its namesake business, Aerie and Todd Snyder.

Unsubscribed will also launch a website to complement its physical store business, but it will not offer online purchasing.

The retailer’s employment ads for its brand ambassador (sales associate) position seek people to be “the face and voice of our company, build brand recognition, and successfully promote our product through the engagement of customers in meaningful ways to increase our company’s brand awareness and to generate sales.”

Earlier this month, AEO reported a first quarter loss of $257 million as it was forced to close stores and engaged in “aggressive inventory liquidation,” according to the company’s CEO Jay Schottenstein.

AEO has seen its business bouncing back in reopened stores. It reported two weeks ago that stores it had opened were generating about 95 percent of the sales that it reported for the same locations last year. At the same time, its digital sales continue to be up, as well.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does Unsubscribed sound like a concept that may have wings for American Eagle Outfitters? Do you expect other retailers to be more willing or reluctant to test new concepts now than before being forced to close stores due to the pandemic?

Braintrust

“I like the concept and it makes sense to offer a fresh take on apparel, but I question why there is no online purchasing.”

Richard Hernandez

“Not selling online is odd, but I do like AEO’s take on slow versus fast fashion and garments made from sustainable materials.”

Georganne Bender

“Love it. Fast fashion fizzled last year (likely before) and prior to the pandemic, sustainability was a big driver in apparel and fashion.”

David Weinand

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