On April 19, 2014, the first Chinese store of American casual clothing brand Abercrombie & Fitch ("A&F") landed in Shanghai Jing'an Kerry Center.

Just two months before the eighth anniversary of its opening, the store announced its closure, and the reason given by A&F was a lease adjustment.

  The day after the closure, the A&F sign on the outer wall of Jing’an Kerry Center had disappeared, and the notice posted at the door reminded the address of Xingye Taikoo Hui store, which is also the only remaining store in Shanghai.

  Although A&F has not withdrawn from China, its development difficulties in China are still significant.

The Sanlitun store and Huiju store in Beijing also had clearance discounts at the same time. According to the clerk, the move was to clear some of the inventory after the Spring Festival.

Previously, A&F children's clothing sub-brand Abercrobierkids Asia Pacific has also ceased operations.

Sexy A&F

  When A&F's first store in China was closed, many fans recalled the grand occasion of its opening - more than a dozen male models with bare upper bodies lined up at the door, attracting a large number of fans to take photos.

The line in front of the door once exceeded 1,000 meters, and some people even came to line up in the early morning.

  This is one of the sexy marketing methods that A&F has been proud of in the past.

Before entering China, the brand, founded in 1892, has undergone many transformations, from an elite brand selling hunting and fishing tools, to a sportswear brand favored by former US President Roosevelt, to a sexy and dynamic leisure sports brand The brand was deeply loved by American college students in the past 20 or 30 years and became popular all over the world.

However, with former CEO Mike Jeffries embroiled in controversy, A&F's sexy play was no longer attractive, and sales continued to decline.

  Less than a year after A&F entered China, Jeffries resigned, and then the brand changed its target group from college students to newcomers in the workplace, and tilted towards fast fashion positioning.

The Xingye Taikoo Hui store in Shanghai is a new concept store opened at the end of November last year. The environment is bright, the style is simple, and there is no perfume smell. It has swept away the nightclub style of the past.

Even so, most Chinese netizens' impression of A&F still remains in its sexy marketing when it opened.

  However, A&F's expansion in China has long been sluggish.

From the financial report, it has been reducing its reliance on Chinese suppliers since 2018.

According to public information, A&F currently has only 15 stores in the mainland, and the number of fans in its Tmall flagship store is less than 2.85 million, far less than that of the American clothing giant Gap, which is also in trouble in China. The latter's Tmall The number of fans of the flagship store has exceeded 10 million.

  A&F has left a good impression on many young consumers, especially those who have studied abroad.

More than a decade ago, it represented high cost performance and trend, but now many consumers complain that its cost performance is low and the style is less attractive.

One month before the closure of the Jingan Kerry Center store, some products were sold at discounted prices, and some were still sold at full price. However, most of the customers who entered the store one after another were concentrated in the promotion area, and few people selected new products.

  The industry is not surprised by this store closure. On the one hand, A&F is positioned in a niche market with high prices, product quality and design do not match the positioning, and lack creativity; on the other hand, with the rise of the national tide, this kind of Brands that are not inferior are easily iterated by brands with more affordable prices. Coupled with the impact of the epidemic, it is reasonable to close stores.

The fast fashion dilemma

  A&F is one of many international clothing brands that are not accustomed to the Chinese market.

In the past few years, brands such as New Look, Topshop, Forever 21, and Old Navy, which were once familiar, have withdrawn from China one after another.

  When fast fashion brands first entered China, they quickly captured a wave of consumers with a wide range of styles and low prices, and people's curiosity about new brands also contributed to their explosive growth.

However, with the upgrading of consumption concepts, fast fashion brands have frequently increased prices in recent years, while styles and quality have remained unchanged, resulting in the loss of target groups.

  The developed e-commerce industry in the Chinese market also has an impact on international fast fashion brands, and the rise of Guochao brands further squeezes their living space.

A person who once worked in a large domestic clothing company revealed to the media that after more than ten years of rapid development, the fast fashion industry is now in a state of excess, and with the impact of the epidemic, "closing stores" and even "exiting" have become the norm. The most mentioned words in the industry.

  In overseas markets, fast fashion brands are also facing challenges.

The industry's annual growth rate has fallen by 3 percent since 2015, according to a report from Research and Markets, a provider of market analysis reporting services.

  Rising global costs of raw materials, labor and transportation threaten the parity that fast-fashion brands rely on to survive.

Taking into account various risks, these brands may shift their focus back to their home base in the United States, such as Gap and A&F, or continue to explore on the road of high-end or sustainable development, such as Zara.

The average selling price of the latter increased by 23% in the fourth quarter of last year, and the average price of the high-end line has risen to 60 euros.

  Fashion expert Zhang Peiying said that there are far more opportunities and challenges in the field of fast fashion than other fields, because its consumer groups are destined to be personalized, or the needs are not so standardized.

The sad departure of A&F also warns future generations: brands need to follow the market direction at all times.

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