Abercrombie & Fitch rejigs range for greater inclusivity
Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F), the US label targeting young adults whose progress has been thwarted by a controversial reputation, has attempted to revive its fortunes in recent years under the leadership of Fran Horowitz. In April, a Netflix documentary entitled ‘White Hot, the Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch’, shed light on the exclusionist and discriminatory practices that have characterised the US label in recent decades, from racist hiring policies to the lack of plus-size clothes. In the meantime, the label has embarked on a new course in an attempt to remain relevant, trying to broaden its consumer target and adopting more inclusive criteria. A Retviews by Lectra study has sifted through A&F’s product range to assess how the new policies translate into the label’s current assortment.
In 2014, A&F dropped its long-established moose, or elk, logo. The label’s brand name, once featured on many garments, has also become increasingly rare.
Only 8% of the current collection’s products display the label's logo, and their price has on average fallen by 8% in one year. Also, the share of branded items offered at promotional prices in 2022 has doubled compared to 2021.
Womenswear now accounts for 65% of the label’s assortment, its men's collection having been trimmed down by 22% in one year.
The study also shows that trousers are one of the linchpins in A&F’s revival. They account for 35% of the range, a much higher share than at its direct competitors (American Eagle, Gap and Old Navy), for which tops account for the largest share. Among trousers, jeans account for 51% of the range. According to Retviews, A&F features twice as many jeans as the average for US mass-market brands. For example, straight-cut jeans have a higher presence than at Gap and Old Navy.
To go more decidedly down the inclusion road, A&F has expanded its size range. Although A&F does not feature 4XL sizes (unlike Old Navy), it has a more extensive size range on average than its competitors. Except for sportswear: “This is an aspect that the label ought to take into consideration, especially since the activewear market has been booming in recent years,"” said Retviews.
Notably, A&F’s unisex collection accounts for only 1% of its overall assortment.
Regarding prices, A&F has been shifting upmarket, a move also reflected in its stores, where a brand image “closer to luxury” is now advocated. Moreover, in one year, A&F’s prices rose by an average of 12%, while those of its competitors remained quite stable.
Driven by strong results in 2021, with sales up 19% to $3.7 billion, A&F has recently stated it is aiming for an average annual growth rate of 6-8% between now and 2025. A&F operates 221 monobrand stores worldwide. The group, which also includes the Hollister and Gilly Hicks brands, is targeting annual sales worth $5 billion within three years.
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