Will a new store design turn Abercrombie & Fitch into a getaway shopping destination?

Discussion
Photo: Abercrombie & Fitch Management Co.
Aug 09, 2022

Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) has launched a new store design – The Getaway – that seeks to make “every day feel as exceptional as the start of a long weekend” for the chain’s young Millennial and Gen Z customers.

The clothing retailer calls the new store design on display at Del Amo Fashion Center in Los Angeles and another outside of Milan, Italy, “a stylish nod to a chic hotel lobby.” The store is focused on elevating the omnichannel shopping experience.

“Abercrombie’s young Millennial and Zillennial customers continue to utilize our stores for a variety of needs—whether it’s discovering new products and trends, picking up online orders, connecting with friends virtually or IRL, figuring out their best fit, or simply enjoying the brand experience,” said Carey Krug, SVP & head of marketing for Abercrombie brands, in a statement.  “Everything from the flow and design elements to the functionality of the spaces was architected to reflect our customer’s ideal experience, whether they’re visiting for a transformative, curated shopping experience or utilizing the store’s omni-hub capabilities.”

The store, according to A&F, is intended to ooze “refinement and relaxation.” The retailer seeks to pull this off with elevated fixtures, wood accent walls and spaces dedicated to A&F’s most popular merchandise categories. 

Will a new store design turn Abercrombie & Fitch into a getaway shopping destination?
Photo: Abercrombie & Fitch Management Co.

“We translated our customer’s mindset into a real-world immersive experience,” said Joanna Ewing, GVP & head of creative for Abercrombie brands. “Their love for our denim manifested in a dedicated denim studio. The fitting rooms have been optimized with customizable lighting and chic design elements. Their affinity for travel is captured in the store’s hotel lobby-like vibe, complete with a check-in desk. The entire design of these new stores is the unique getaway mindset of our customers brought to life in a way that communicates elevated ease”

A&F went into 2022 expecting big things after reporting in March that its fourth-quarter operating margin reached its highest level in more than a decade.

The retailer’s first-quarter sales growth slowed to a four percent year-over-year increase as rising food and fuel prices made consumers reconsider spending on apparel and other discretionary categories. A&F lowered its earnings forecast for the year as it expects that higher costs will act as a headwind.

CEO Fran Horowitz, in a press release, pledged to “manage expenses tightly” and protect “strategic investments in marketing, technology and our customer experience, which should drive sustained long-term sales growth.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will Abercrombie & Fitch’s new getaway store design resonate with young Millennial and Gen Z consumers? Do you think A&F is in a stronger or weaker position to deal with current market challenges than its rivals?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Retailers must continually innovate to get customers off the sofa and into stores. Kudos to A&F for making this effort."

Join the Discussion!

13 Comments on "Will a new store design turn Abercrombie & Fitch into a getaway shopping destination?"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

The new store design hits many of the high-points you would expect in catering to their demographic. And while store design is a powerful feature, ultimately the store experience will be determined by the service their frontline staff provide the shoppers who visit. A&F has done well in managing the challenges that apparel retailers have faced over the last two years, and it appears better positioned than others. However the apparel category still has its challenges and these will persist.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

I would add to Mark’s comment about the store experience (service and design) that A&F has recaptured customers who turned away 10 years ago by upgrading and updating its product mix. Without commenting on the new design concept (sight unseen), it sounds like Abercrombie is working hard to separate itself from its mall competition with some creative new shop concepts. Apparel spending is soft right now, but A&F should continue to play the long game.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust
Richard Hernandez
Director of Commerce
1 month 15 days ago

I agree with this. Ten years ago, I felt so out of place – the store was dark, there was too much cologne wafting in the air, and I felt like I was in a night club. I am glad to see that they rethought the experience and I hope it continues to be a positive step forward for them.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

The big story coming out of 2022 is customer experience. Retailers must continually innovate to get customers off the sofa and into stores. Kudos to A&F for making this effort.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

A&F have done a lot of work on some of their stores, brightening them and lightening them to resonate with a more modern consumer. This latest evolution seems to take that a step further and is a more creative use of the space that looks easier to shop and allows products to be showcased more effectively. Not everything is new – the fitting room optimizable lighting has been in my local store in Scottsdale for an age – but there are enough new elements to keep this fresh and the layout/configuration is much improved. In some ways this reminds me a little of a Marine Layer which has had great success over recent years and is built around a clear lifestyle position.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

This is welcome news and a welcome evolution from the dark dungeons of yesteryear. Looks like a couple of retailers are figuring out that we really are in a new era of brick-and-mortar retailing, and that the architecture and ambiance of the last century don’t cut it any more. I’m reading this article after visiting a newly remodeled Banana Republic store in San Diego just this last weekend. It is magnificent, gorgeous, beautiful. (I kinda liked it.) A whole new generation of physical plans is past due. We are now learning how retailers are going to blend (dare I say harmonize) the different channels that the customer wants to use as seamlessly as possible. I am a long way removed from Millennial and Gen Z thinking. And I worked for A&F in the early days, so I have watched the whole evolution closely. This is a great move.

David Naumann
BrainTrust

Abercrombie & Fitch’s new store design is a direct response to the ongoing challenge of getting customers in stores. The “elevated ease” approach to the new design should help make the stores more of a destination and help customers feel energized. This is another example of stores appealing to customers that value the theater of shopping.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

I did a tweet stream yesterday about a retail spelunking trip to Chicago’s Marshall Field & Co.’s – now Macy’s – historic State Street flagship store, particularly about the architectural touches and hidden nuances that can be found throughout the store. I commented that this is what retail used to be, not the sterile boxes we have today.

It’s hard to see The Gateway travel vibe from the photos I found on Google. The cash wrap does look like a hotel check-in desk, one that’s located next to an upscale gift shop. Inside the product is still presented on tables and traditional garment racks. Still, the article talks about the omnichannel shopping experience, and those services and conveniences do not translate well in photos.

I love when retailers launch new prototypes. But I want to see more that’s new and different, rather than more of the same marketed differently.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

Good retail is theater, so I applaud A&F’s move to elevate the customer experience. But does it go far enough? Experiential shopping creates a bond between friends and the brand that’s hard to break if you hit the right notes. Making sure the experience leverages all five senses is key. With Millennial and Gen Z shoppers in particular, it needs to have look AND feel.

How about a store concept that encourages random meetups and interactions among customers? In other words, try a lounge setup with board games about A&C’s latest products. Then maybe a social component that extends the experience online.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

It’s hard to judge without being there, especially since these photos depict a very “normal” looking store. Seems the product (lifestyle oriented) is the difference more than anything, which either was or could’ve been tested anywhere so I would reserve judgement until visiting. But I will say this: Milan and Del Amo? Huh? I’m not sure what either of those locations would get you, especially Milan. I find that strategy very suspect in terms of what you would learn in order to scale the idea. If the Italian unit goes crazy volume-wise, then what? More units in Italy/Europe? Thought you just closed a bunch of those. Anyway, this is kind of a wait-and-see effort all around. Let’s check on this idea in February.

Scott Norris
Guest

I see a bunch of wasted vertical space behind that cashwrap counter – you could display product vignettes there, or marketing messages, or a social media display wall. Or heck, just nice artwork.

Dave Wendland
BrainTrust

This is definitely a step in the right direction for A&F. Will it resonate with their intended shoppers and help to remain relevant in their eyes? Time will tell. Although I think the recognition that the retail space needed to become far more immersive, integrated with technology, and offer “personalized” curation gives them a much-needed boost!

Patrick Jacobs
BrainTrust

This move will provide an elevated and engaging experience that will resonate with A&F’s core customers. The effort to redesign itself beyond a teen mall brand is a move in the right direction, mirroring other retail concept stores like Neighborhood Goods and Brik+Clik. A&F seems to have the right people navigating the many change initiatives needed to strike the right chord with shoppers. There is a large likelihood of success.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Retailers must continually innovate to get customers off the sofa and into stores. Kudos to A&F for making this effort."

Take Our Instant Poll

How likely is Abercrombie & Fitch’s new getaway store design to resonate with young Millennial and Gen Z consumers?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...