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The prominent, obvious, distinctive logos that once represented the height of fashion are now signals that the wearer—and the brand that makes them—are terribly out of touch. For Abercrombie & Fitch, the brand that made its name among young consumers by emblazoning everything with massive lettering, this trend shift is also a potential distress signal, requiring a complete renovation of the brand’s strategy, pricing, designs, and stores.

abercrombieSlumping sales for several quarters in a row exemplify what virtually every teenaged stylist could tell us: Kids no longer want to carry advertisements for the brand logos on their backs. Instead, they seek out unmarked clothing items they can mix and match with products from other brands, creating individualized looks that span multiple brands. This approach also allows them to save money on their clothing purchases, especially if they find their preferred anonymous items at low-priced fast fashion retailers such as H&M and Zara.

For Abercrombie & Fitch, the market shift in directions precisely opposite its retail strategy has invoked radical changes. Its chief executive announced that virtually no logos will appear anywhere on the clothing sold through its North American stores (though European shoppers can still find some). To make room for the new lines of unmarked clothing, Abercrombie & Fitch also is drastically discounting its remaining inventory of logoed clothes.

This price shift is remarkable for the company, which long relied on an upper end, masstige approach. But lowered prices bring its clothing items closer in line with—if not quite as inexpensive as—its fast fashion rivals. In further efforts to compete with these brands, Abercrombie & Fitch has committed to speeding up its supply lines and finding new ways to cut costs. Still, it expects to close up to 60 stores in the next year.

Source: Suzanne Kapner and Erin McCarthy, “Abercrombie to Remove Logos from Most Clothing,” Yahoo The Wall Street Journal, August 29, 2014, http://online.wsj.com.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why is Abercrombie & Fitch transitioning to logo-free apparel?
  1. For a clothing brand such as Abercrombie & Fitch, what are the risks and rewards of a logo-free strategy?